Child’s body found in landslide debris in Wrangell


On Saturday evening, the body of 11-year-old Kara Heller was recovered from the landslide debris in Wrangell, the small town of 2,127 people on Wrangell Island in Southeast Alaska. A search has gone on for days since the Nov. 20 landslide across Zimovia Highway, and the discovery of Kara’s body leaves just two people known to be still missing, but presumed by most in the community to also be deceased: Otto Florschutz, 65; and Derek Heller, 12.

A scent detection dog signaled to searchers to look in an area of the debris and with the assistance of an excavator, led to Kara’s remains. Next of kin and the State Medical Examiners Office have 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, the Department of Public Safety said.

The entire Heller family of five appears to have been taken by the disaster.


  1. So horrible for an entire family to be swept away …
    prayers to all their relatives , friends and the searchers and responders

  2. We bandy about the word “tragic” with a casual disregard of those events which truly are deeply tragic.

    I couldn’t help imagining how utterly shattering this actually tragic loss must be for any distant family that remains, as well as such a small tight knit community as this.

    Reading about finding young Miss Heller brought such a knot of sorrow to my heat.

    I am truly sorry to hear such sad news.

  3. Very difficult to wrap my brain around the enormity of this tragedy. — my prayers will continue beyond the scope of the search and cleanup. — is there fund raising available for the benefit of the survivors?

  4. Words can seem hollow when such a tragedy strikes, particularly when the loss of life includes children.
    Sometimes there are no words. There is no guarantee of a tomorrow for any of us. Live life to it’s fullest. Extend grace to others. Find joy in the simple, silly things. Love your neighbor as yourself, even if you don’t like them very much. Love and forgive those who seem unlovable. We’re all walking wounded. Tell your family and friends how much they mean to you, today. Hug your kids. Help others, even if they don’t seem to really deserve it. Change someone’s day for the better with a smile. Love others, show empathy when it’s possible, sympathy when it’s not. We don’t know the often terrible crosses others must bear. Extend grace. Offer a smile. That’s really about all we can do. Make this short life we live in this crazy world mean something. Make a difference. Today. Peace.

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