Landslide survivors recall 'shock wave' of debris

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by ABBEY GIBB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 1 at 9:11 PM

STANWOOD, Wash.—Two more survivors of the Oso landslide are reliving their harrowing tale and sharing the agony of the unknown, as one of their family members is still missing.

“I saw this debris and it looked like it was shooting straight out of the ground,” said Bobbi Aylesworth, landslide survivor. “I didn’t realize it was coming to me.  I just thought we were having an earthquake.”

On the morning of March 22, Bobbi looked out her bathroom window for the last time.

“I felt the force on my back and I remember swishing this way and that way and then I don’t remember anything else after that,” she said.

A veil of black barreled over Bobbi and her husband Bob.

"A shock wave of some type," said Bob. “Because I was on the bed and the bed went that a way and I ended up in the closet."

The couple has lived just south of SR 530 in the same family home for decades.  The force of the landslide pulled them hundreds of yards away when it finally stopped.

“I was lying on my side and there was something next to me and it ended up being a bumper of a car,” Bob said.

Through all of that, the two landed just inches from each other at the top of a 40-foot debris pile.

“It wasn’t five minutes you could hear the sirens coming.  The helicopters came in. There must have been 10-12 of them,” he said.

A heavy tree and two cars stood between them and being rescued. Meanwhile, their daughter Monique Tollenaar, who lives in Stanwood, desperately paced, unaware of the good news.  She frantically sent a friend to search for them.

“He communicated back that everything was gone. He said there was no evidence of the houses,” Tollenaar said.

Not only did she think she lost her parents but her grandparents as well, who lived next door.  Four hours in, her friend continued through the debris field.

“All of a sudden I thought, ‘Gosh, I think I hear a voice.’  So Bob started yelling help and then our friend came up and found us,” Bobbi explained.

Rescue crews hoisted the couple to safety.  They would later find out crews had just saved Bobbi’s father, Larry, 81.  He is now recovering in the ICU.  But her mother Bonnie, 91, is still missing.

Both Bob and Bobbi are badly bruised.  Bob suffered a shattered wrist, but they should be ok.  They especially wanted to thank the tireless volunteers who saved their lives and continue to look for Bonnie.
 

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