Oso Mudslide, This was how last Saturday morning began for Linda McPherson, 68, and her husband, Gary, 78, better known as Mac: They were in their twinned reclining chairs in the living room easing into the day when, without warning, at a few minutes before 11 a.m., their world and everything around them was shattered.
A giant wall of water-saturated earth exploded their house in a roar of mud, rock and pulverized forest, destroying much of the tiny community of Oso and killing at least 16 people.
The McPhersons were swept apart, her in one direction, him in another. When things stopped moving – the house ripped into pieces and shoved 200 feet from its foundation – Mr. McPherson found himself trapped. He could breathe but not reach the surface of the enveloping muck, his leg pinned by a beam of the house he had just been sitting in.
He reached around and found a stick where he lay, perhaps part of his recliner, and began fighting for his life, digging at the mud.
“He was able to poke up through the rubble,” said his sister-in-law, Irene Kuntz. Friends spotted him struggling and dug him out. As they helped him out, Mr. McPherson begged his rescuers to leave him and find his wife, please find his wife. But she died.