© 2022 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
KSOR Header background image 1
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

One Week Later, Prayers For Landslide Victims And Stories Of Survival

The death roll has risen to 21 following the massive landslide near Oso, Washington. But the number of missing has been lowered dramatically -- to 30.

Over the weekend, the search for victims continued. At the same time, residents in the nearby town of Darrington paused to pray and reflect.

At First Baptist Church, they prayed for the families of the victims and members of the congregation also told stories of survival.

Steve Sconce was supposed to have been fixing a roof on a house directly in the path of the landslide.

"I decided to not go on that Saturday," he says.

Instead, Sconce headed out of town to watch his son compete in a wrestling tournament. So at 10:37 when the hillside slid, Sconce was safely away from danger.

"Normally by 10 or 10:30 I would have been on that roof, helping Billy."

Billy is Billy Spillers, who's feared dead along with three of his children. Miraculously, a fourth child survived -- thanks in part to a young man sitting in another pew at First Baptist.

"It wasn't much of a question," says Isaac Hall. "If there's people there, we're going to help them out."

Hall and a buddy were driving on Highway 530 when they came across a wall of debris. The two leapt into action. Soon, they were pulling four-year-old Jacob Spillers out of the mud.

"We were just trundling along looking for anybody or anything, and looked over the site and there he was, " says Hall. "He was up to his waist and freezing cold, obviously, and crying. So we went over there and started digging him out."

A helicopter swooped down and Hall handed the boy off to safety. The rescue was captured on a video that quickly went 'round the world.

Others members of First Baptist Church in Darrinton have volunteered endless hours dishing up soup and sandwiches to rescue workers. Even so, Pastor Mike DeLuca says some in his flock wish they could have done more.

They're also asking the inevitable question: Why did this happen?

"We can't blame God for everything," says DeLuca. "We just can't. Things happen. Natural disasters happen. Volcanoes blow. Mountains slide. We just have to be ready at any moment."

DeLuca says after 37 years in Darrington, he knows the community will pull through. Even if life will never be the same.

Pastor Mike DeLuca leads First Baptist Church in Darrington, Wash.
Kara McDermott /
/
Pastor Mike DeLuca leads First Baptist Church in Darrington, Wash.

Steve Sconce says he would have been repairing a roof in the slide zone had he not decided to attend his son's wrestling match.
Kara McDermott /
/
Steve Sconce says he would have been repairing a roof in the slide zone had he not decided to attend his son's wrestling match.

First Baptist Church in Darrington, Washington.
Kara McDermott /
/
First Baptist Church in Darrington, Washington.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.