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Oso Marks One Year Since Tragic Mudslide With Ceremony And Community Gatherings

Debra Scollard
A memorial tree at the site of the 530 Lanslide in Oso, WA on March 22, 2015.

It was an emotional day in Oso, exactly one year after the mudslide on Highway 530 near the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

Families and first responders came together to commemorate their loss and celebrate their community. 

Bagpipes sounded out as pipe and drum corps from Snohomish and King counties led the way for first responders and elected officials.

All were paying tribute to the 43 people who died in the Oso mudslide. Those honoring them gathered in the middle of the highway, which was closed for three hours to commemorate the loss and recovery.

The highway has been rebuilt and was re-opened to two-way traffic in September. 

A formal ceremony without speeches

First, there was a moment of silence, led by Lieutenant Richard Burke of the Bellevue Fire Department.

Then a bell ceremony followed and the reading of all the names of those killed.

Lastly, there was a prayer from Oso Fire Chaplain Joel Johnson.

A weekend of remembrance and healing

As the day wrapped up, people hugged and reconnected to the community that has bonded in the year since the slide.

Some were search and rescue teams with dogs, some were loggers wearing brightly colored sweatshirts. Others were families of the deceased, who mostly stayed quiet, though Alice Medin from Eugene, Oregon said she was happy to be at the gathering because it has helped her heal. 

“I’m so open, I am completely at ease,” she said.

She lost her youngest sister in the mudslide. They grew up in Darrington on a big family farm that’s not there anymore. Now the Darrington communityhas opened a new library in her sister’s honor.

“I didn’t think I would ever want to come back up here but she’s here. It was not meant to be but it was time,” Medin said.

Public officials delivered seedlings to the site of the memorial for families and first responders to take home as mementos for people to plant and watch grow as the healing goes on.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to