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.

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

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

Eric Bradner and Daniel Strauss, CNN

Trump wins all delegates at stake in Michigan GOP convention amid leadership battle

Former President Donald Trump won all 39 delegates at stake at a Michigan Republican convention Saturday, as officials there sought to move past a leadership battle that has split the state party into rival factions.

8 hours ago

Workers clear snow in a residential neighborhood, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Truckee, Calif. (AP P...

Brooke Hess and Ken Ritter, The Associated Press

A massive blizzard howls in the Sierra Nevada. High winds and heavy snow close roads and ski resorts

A powerful blizzard that a meteorologist termed “as bad as it gets” howled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, closing a long stretch of Interstate 80 in Northern California, forcing ski resorts to shut down, and leaving thousands of homes without power.

10 hours ago

People inspect damage and recover items from their homes following Israeli air strikes on February ...

Waafa Shurafa and Samy Magdy

U.S. says Israel has agreed to the framework for a Gaza cease-fire. Hamas now must decide

A senior U.S. official says Israel has essentially endorsed a framework of a proposed Gaza cease-fire and hostage release deal, and it is now up to Hamas to agree to it.

18 hours ago

yellow tape crossing blue and red lights...

Associated Press

Body parts of 2 people found in Long Island park and police are trying to identify them

Police on New York's Long Island were trying to identify human remains found in a popular suburban park that appear to be from a man and a woman.

20 hours ago

A vehicle drives through blowing snow near Interstate 80 (I-80) in the Sierra Nevada mountains at t...

Scott Sonner

Powerful storm in California and Nevada shuts interstate and dumps snow on mountains

Tens of thousands of customers are without power early Saturday and a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 80 remains closed indefinitely.

1 day ago

FILE: Ballots are counted by Maricopa County Elections Department staff ahead of Tuesdays election ...

Associated Press

Arizona’s new voting laws that require proof of citizenship are not discriminatory, a US judge rules

A U.S. district judge has ruled Arizona legislators did not discriminate when they adopted laws requiring counties to verify the status of registered voters who haven’t provided proof of U.S. citizenship.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

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.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Authorities identify those killed and still missing after Alaska landslide