Silence weighs heavily on the families of the missing

OSO — Steve Harris was texting his nephew, urging him to visit him in his home along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.

That was the last time Harris was heard from. It was just before the mudslide hit Saturday morning.

Robyn Dombroski, his sister, hasn’t received any news of Harris or his wife, Theresa, since the disaster.

Harris, 52, owns a cabin on 312 Street NE in Oso. According to property tax records, he lived in Edmonds.

Dombroski said Theresa Harris was last heard from via Facebook on Saturday morning.

“Everyone’s in the state of shell shock right now,” said Dombroski, who lived in Alaska. “There’s nothing anyone can do.”

Harris is an avid fisherman who enjoys being outdoors. If he died, Dombroski said, the family can take comfort knowing he was in a part of the world he loved best.

“If we can’t get closure with the rescuers actually recovering them, that’s the next best thing,” she said. “We’re hoping for a miracle.”

Dombroski said the family has been keeping their spirits up by thinking of ways Steve Harris may have used his outdoor skills to survive. Rescuers have not found any slide victims alive since Saturday.

“It’s not looking good,” Dombroski said. “We just need news. And we need mother nature to work with us.”

Dombroski said she and her brother grew up in South Texas. He relocated to Washington and has worked as a project manager for Elliott Bay Design Group, a Seattle-based marine architecture and engineering firm, for about 15 years. He has two daughters, both in their early twenties.

Dombroski said her son, a soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is at the slide site. He has been attending community meetings and funneling back information regarding rescue efforts.

Dombroski said being so far away makes her feel even more helpless.

“You still gotta get through the day,” she said. “Every time the phone rings you’re just hoping for good news.”

— Amy Nile, Herald Writer

* * *

ARLINGTON — Ron deQuilettes first caught her eye at Bible college. They’ve been married 31 years.

He had black hair, dark eyes and a beautiful tan, said his wife, La Rae deQuilettes.

She and one of their grown children were waiting in downtown Arlington on Monday for news.

Ron deQuilettes is an electrician who had a job in Oso on Saturday. The last word from him was a text at 8:30 a.m. that morning.

“I’m here,” he told his wife.

La Rae deQuilettes mistakenly believed the slide happened in Bellingham. She didn’t worry when Ron didn’t come home, thinking he was working late. On Sunday, she realized her mistake and spent that night waiting to see if police would knock on her door in Bothell with the worst news possible.

“What a nightmare, it’s a living nightmare,” she said Monday.

Police told her that the couple who hired her husband also are missing after the slide.

The deQuilettes have four children, the youngest of whom is in high school.

La Rae deQuilettes is trying to be strong for the kids, she said. Her daughter, Ashlee Staub, 29, joined her in Arlington.

Their plan is “wait, hope, try not to lose faith,” La Rae deQuilettes said. “Just hang on to your family and don’t lose faith.”

Without her husband, the family will have no money, she said. Their home electricity business went under during the recession a few years back.

She is trying not to break down, thinking maybe Ron has an air pocket, or is somewhere waiting for rescuers.

“He’s a fighter. He’s tall and strong. He has heart in him like there’s no tomorrow,” she said.

— Dan Catchpole, Herald Writer

* * *

DARRINGTON — John and Frank Hadaway studied a map of the slide area in front of the IGA store in Darrington on Monday searching for the lot where their brother disappeared.

Steve Hadaway, 53, was installing a cable dish at a home on Steelhead Drive when the slide hit. A track of his rig’s GPS shows he arrived at the job at 8:15 a.m. He hasn’t been heard from since.

Two other local men were installing a water heater at the time. William Welsh of Arlington and Steve Neal of Darrington are also missing. The Hadaway brothers, who drove up from Puyallup, were preparing for the worst.

“One way or another, we just want him to come home,” Frank Hadaway said.

Their brother moved to Darrington seven years ago because he loved small towns. He’d text his brothers pictures of Whitehorse Mountain and the picturesque scenery that surrounds the town to try to make them jealous.

Brandy Hadaway, one of the missing man’s two daughters, said there was a soft side to the military veteran.

His wife Marrge would call him “a creampuff Marine,” she said.

— Eric Stevick, Herald Writer

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