NATIONAL NEWS

Authorities identify those killed and still missing after Alaska landslide

Nov 24, 2023, 3:57 PM

Debris from the landslide in Wrangell, Alaska, is shown extending into the sea on November 22.
Mand...

Debris from the landslide in Wrangell, Alaska, is shown extending into the sea on November 22. Mandatory Credit: Alaska Department of Public Safety/AP

(CNN) — Authorities on Friday released the names of the three people killed and three others still missing after a landslide in southern Alaska.

Sixteen-year-old Mara Heller, 44-year-old Timothy Heller and 36-year-old Beth Heller were found dead, the state’s Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

Authorities say they are still searching for 65-year-old Otto Florschutz, 12-year-old Derek Heller and 11-year-old Kara Heller after a landslide hit the Zimovia Highway near Wrangell Monday night and destroyed three homes.

Loved ones of the missing and dead were notified, and the remains of those killed were sent to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy, the release stated.

The search for the missing people who may be buried in the slide area moved “from an active search to a reactive search” on Thursday.

Authorities on Friday said they were working to clear the road of debris and have a scent detection K9 team “on standby to resume searching if new information or evidence” is found.

“While the active search is concluding, it remains a priority of the State of Alaska and your Alaska State Troopers to locate the three missing Alaskans so that we can bring closure to their families and the community,” Thursday’s news release said. “Our deepest sympathies are with the families, friends, and loved ones of the three deceased and three missing Alaskans.”

Officials conducted three search efforts in the area, where they used “drones, helicopters, and planes; ground teams with K9 scent detection dogs and trained professionals; and water-based searching with K9 teams and sonar,” the Alaska Department of Public Safety said Thursday.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety said a young girl, later identified as Mara Heller, was found dead during initial search and rescue efforts on Monday, and the remains of two others – Timothy and Beth Heller – were located by a drone operator on Tuesday.

Alaska’s Department of Transportation said the landslide’s path grew to an estimated 450 feet wide and had a significant debris field.

The area where the landslide struck had been particularly wet on Sunday and Monday, with more than 3 inches of rain falling around Wrangell in the prior 24 hours, Andy Park, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Juneau, told CNN.

Park said winds of 61 to 87 mph Monday evening may have been a factor in the landslides as well.

The region of southeast Alaska is already at risk for debris flows, according to Barrett Salisbury, a geologist with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. Heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt or saturated soil only increase the risk, he said during a news conference.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has issued a disaster declaration in Wrangell due to the effects of the landslide, his office posted on social media.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft...

Jackie Wattles, CNN

Two astronauts wait to come home as Boeing races to understand spacecraft issues. Here’s what’s at stake

Two test pilots helming the inaugural crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft are in a tentative position — and so is Boeing’s reputation in spaceflight.

1 hour ago

Matera, Italy, has been a UNESCO World Heritage site for more than 30 years.
Mandatory Credit:	Poik...

Angelica Chiara Yazbeck and Louis Mian, CNN

Historic building in Italy damaged by parkour tourists

Jumping from building to building in an ancient city might seem like a dream for those who practice parkour — a sport that involves making it past obstacles — but it can cause damage to historic buildings.

1 hour ago

Community members in Denver's Central Park neighborhood have a lot of questions after discovering a...

Karen Morfitt, KCNC

Registered sex offender found operating ice cream truck in Denver

Community members in Denver's Central Park neighborhood have a lot of questions after discovering a registered sex offender was operating the neighborhood ice cream truck.

2 hours ago

Tuesday February 9, 2006. Photo by Scott G. Winterton / Deseret Morning News.The Ten Commandments m...

Sara Cline, Associated Press

New Louisiana law requires that The Ten Commandments must be displayed classrooms

Louisiana has become the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom.

2 hours ago

Tropical Storm Alberto has formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, the first named storm of what...

Jaime stengle and Mariana Martinez Barba

Tropical Storm Alberto forms in southwest Gulf, 1st named storm of the hurricane season

Tropical Storm Alberto has formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, the first named storm of what is forecast to be a busy hurricane season.

5 hours ago

An air tanker soars through a large plume of smoke over and around wildfire-affected areas in the v...

MORGAN LEE Associated Press

At least 1 dead in New Mexico wildfire that forced thousands to flee, governor’s office says

Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled a mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Authorities identify those killed and still missing after Alaska landslide