LOCAL NEWS

Oso community is raising money for a memorial at the slide site

Mar 22, 2018, 2:30 PM | Updated: May 24, 2018, 2:35 pm
Items from a temporary memorial at the site of the Oso landslide. (Hanna Scott/KIRO Radio) Items from a temporary memorial at the site of the Oso landslide. (Hanna Scott/KIRO Radio) The site of the tragic Oso mudslide in March 2018. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio) Concept art for a memorial at the site of the 2014 Oso mudslide. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio) Concept art for a memorial at the site of the 2014 Oso mudslide. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

On March 22, 2014, people in the Steelhead Haven neighborhood were going about their normal routines. It was Saturday, so most kids were home. It was family time. Then at 10:37 a.m. a mudslide destroyed the neighborhood, killing 43 people.

Tom and Karen Pszonka lost three generations of their family; their daughter Katie and her husband Shane, their 4- and 6-year-old grandson’s Wyatt and Hunter, and Shane’s parents, JuDee and Lou.

Dayn Brunner’s sister Summer Raffo was driving along SR 530 to go care for horses when the wall of dirt, mud, and debris came barreling across the highway.

It was the deadliest landslide in U.S. history. It was also a shining moment for humanity as the Oso and Darrington communities came together to support each other and saw an outpouring of support from the state, country, and even the world.

Now those communities and families are looking for that same show of heart as they launch a fundraising campaign for the SR530 Mudslide Memorial.

Aerial photos of the mudslide

A temporary memorial, trees with pictures and favorite items of those lost, were planted six months after the slide. The memorial is located inside the Steelhead Drive gate.

The new memorial will be permanent, located where the neighborhood used to be. It will be dedicated to those killed and to honor the first responders who spent weeks sifting through the debris to find the remains of those killed.

“I think it’s first and foremost for the families,” said Snohomish County Emergency Management Director Jason Biermann. “It’s to memorialize their loss and to have a place where they can come and have some peace. I think it’s humbling that they have chosen to have an area of it that is dedicated to the first responders.”

Supporters say the memorial will also serve as a way to teach others about what happened.

“There were people who were very invested in the work, emotionally, physically, and mentally,” Biermann said. “There was a lot of work and a lot of people who were out here and it certainly established some strong bonds that will last forever.”

It will also be a place for the communities and loved ones of those lost to find peace and healing, Brunner says.

“It’s very difficult. I never thought that this would affect me the way that it does. It just literally consumes me. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about this and that’s not a bad thing. I just miss her — a lot.”

Students send cards and letters to Oso rescue teams

“It is very difficult, still,” said Tom Pszonka at the site of the slide. “And I imagine it will never go away.”

The concept designs are nearly complete. Surviving family members have been a big part of that process. On Thursday, Snohomish County along with those family members, launched a fundraising effort for the SR530 Mudslide Memorial.

Organizers hope to raise $6 million to design, build, and maintain the memorial.

You can donate to the memorial effort at www.slidememorial.com.

“The first time we saw it, we were overwhelmed. We were all crying looking at it,” Karen Pszonka said at the slide site. “I think to be able to walk around there and see all this, it will make the site feel a lot better and look a lot better.”

Local News

belltown...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

Pedestrian hit by train in Belltown, police investigate

Seattle Police are investigating after a man was hit by a train near Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood Thursday night.
15 hours ago
Frasier...
Bill Kaczaraba

Lovable radio host Frasier returns, but not to Seattle

Frasier, the lovable but loveless radio host who put Seattle on the map will not be returning to the Emerald City.
15 hours ago
snohomish bus...
Bill Kaczaraba

Snohomish Community Transit proposes new connections to light rail, more frequent bus service

Community Transit is proposing changes for 2024 and beyond that would increase local bus service and include connections to light rail in Snohomish County.
15 hours ago
cannabis...
L.B. Gilbert

New tax bill proposed on high potency cannabis products

New legislation out of Olympia is looking to place a higher tax on cannabis products in Washington state based on how much THC is in them.
15 hours ago
Lake Stevens...
KIRO Newsradio staff

Family found to be dealing drugs from Lake Stevens restaurant

A woman found guilty of dealing drugs from her Lake Stevens restaurant, will now spend 10 years in prison.
15 hours ago
diaz...
Frank Sumrall

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz optimistic about drop in violent crime

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz believes his jurisdiction — the 142 square miles that incorporate the metropolis — is becoming a safer place.
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Oso community is raising money for a memorial at the slide site