An overhead view of the landslide that struck about 11 miles south of the center of Wrangell, destroying three homes and leaving six people dead or missing. (Photo courtesy of Caleb Purviance via the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)

An overhead view of the landslide that struck about 11 miles south of the center of Wrangell, destroying three homes and leaving six people dead or missing. (Photo courtesy of Caleb Purviance via the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)

Girl, 11, is fourth confirmed fatality of Wrangell landslide, two others still missing

Three other family members also killed; officials at town hall address debris removal, other efforts

This is a developing story.

An 11-year-old girl found Saturday evening is the fourth confirmed fatality of a landslide last Monday in Wrangell, with two other people still missing, the Alaska Department of Public Safety reported Sunday morning.

“At 6:35 p.m. on November 25, 2023, the body of 11-year-old Kara Heller was recovered from the landslide debris,” a statement by the department notes. “A Scent Detection K-9 indicated on an area of the debris and with the assistance of an excavator, the remains were recovered. Next of kin and the State Medical Examiners Office has been notified. A scent detection K9 team remains on standby and will resume searching if new information or evidence leads to a specific search area.”

Five members of the Heller family and a neighbor who’s a commercial fisherman were caught in the landslide that destroyed three houses about 11 miles south of the center of Wrangell. Others confirmed killed by the landslide are Timothy Heller, 44, Beth Heller, 36, and Mara Heller, 16, who were found during searches Monday night and early Tuesday.

Still missing are Derek Heller 12 and Otto Florschutz, 65. Florschutz’s wife survived the landslide.

Kara Heller’s body was found as officials from multiple agencies were hosting a town hall meeting in Wrangell to update residents about assistance and debris removal efforts, and answer questions. More than 50 homes are cut off from road access to town by the slide. Questions from residents included the stability of hillsides in the area, and what is being done to safeguard and/or warn people about future landslides.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is also making photos from government agencies participating in the response effort available on a department Flickr account.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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