Brother recovers sister's body from Oso landslide

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 28 at 9:11 PM

NEAR OSO, Wash. -- As the days pass and the rain returns, the mud and silt slowly starts to wash away.

Wednesday, it revealed pieces of Summer Raffo's bright blue car still buried in the dark, heavy mud that had consumed it.

Dayn Brunner got the news from a family friend.

"She called me crying and said, 'We found Summer,'" said Brunner.

Among the twisted metal, a seat was still intact. Brunner and his son made their way into the mud-filled field, 500 yards from the road she'd last travelled.

"I reached around her upper torso and pulled her out. Two other guys were on her legs and they assisted pulling her out," Brunner said.

Brunner had found his sister. It's all Summer's family wanted - to find Summer and to say goodbye.

"And I did I had my moment. I got to say the words I wanted to say, I got to hold her. I got to hold her for my mom and I got to say the words that my mom wanted to say to her," said Brunner.

As the chopper moved in overhead, the digging stopped and the saws fell quiet. Brunner and his brothers embraced, as their sister's body was carried away.

As with every recovery since the disaster, first responders paused too and grieved.

"You see seasoned veterans in this business, they start to tear up, their eyes get glossy. And it's kind of their way of paying respects to these peoples' loved ones that have been lost," said Travis Hots, Snohomish County Fire Chief.

"To stand there and actually watch it happen, watch them do it for my sister? It's awe-inspiring," Brunner said.

So there is closure for Dayn Brunner. But his work isn't over, because the town of Darrington is Brunner's family too.

"I want to help them experience the same closure that I've experienced,” he said. “I want to be back out there with all those guys who came running over to that car when they knew it was her."

A memorial fund has been established for Summer Raffo.

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