Mudslide survivors wonder: Why are we alive?

SEATTLE (AP) – It was a sound like a jet engine. Then a forest of trees collapsed. And all was quiet except for the calls for help.

LoAnna Langton ran out of her house with her baby boy in her arms. Confused about what had just happened, she shouted for her children and their friends. She knew she needed to have her all her babies close at hand.

“Larry, Larry, did you see those trees? There’s a hundred trees that just went down,” she screamed to her neighbor, Larry Taylor, who opened his door and poked his head out.

About 150 feet away, the rest of their rural Washington neighborhood had disappeared in a massive tangle of mud and debris. The huge March 22 landslide in Oso killed more than two dozen people and left many others missing. It was one of the worst natural disasters in state history.

Taylor, Langton, her four children, her mother and her great aunt survived. And like others who are still alive – either by luck or circumstance – they are trying to make sense of the tragedy.

LoAnna Langton’s husband, Kristopher Langton, also lived. When the slide struck, he had been on his way back home from an errand. After a few seconds of listening to his wife scream on the phone, he raced into the muck to try to reach his family.

“I was scared out of my mind,” LoAnna Langton recalled days after the landslide. She was worried about her husband and about getting her children to safety.


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