Monday, June 3News That Matters

Victims and missing individuals from Wrangell, Alaska landslide identified by authorities


CNN – Last Friday, the names of the victims from the landslide in southern Alaska were released by authorities. Three individuals were confirmed dead and three others were missing after the devastating event.

According to the state’s Department of Public Safety, the deceased victims were identified as 16-year-old Mara Heller, 44-year-old Timothy Heller, and 36-year-old Beth Heller. The search for the missing individuals, 65-year-old Otto Florschutz, 12-year-old Derek Heller, and 11-year-old Kara Heller, is still ongoing.

The families of the missing and deceased have been notified, and the remains of the victims have been sent to the medical examiner’s office for autopsy. The search for the missing individuals has transitioned from an active search to a reactive search as authorities work to clear the road of debris.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety conducted multiple search efforts in the area using drones, helicopters, planes, ground teams with K9 dogs, and sonar for water-based searching. Despite transitioning to a reactive search, the State of Alaska remains committed to locating the missing individuals and providing closure for their families and the community.

The landslide, which occurred near Wrangell, destroyed three homes and led to a significant debris field, with the path of the landslide estimated to be 450 feet wide. Weather conditions, including heavy rainfall and strong winds, are believed to have contributed to the landslide. The region of southeast Alaska is known to be at risk for debris flows, especially in the presence of heavy rainfall or saturated soil.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has issued a disaster declaration in Wrangell in response to the effects of the landslide. The community and authorities continue to work diligently in the search and recovery efforts.