Brave Boy: 4-Year-Old Survives After Mudslide Swallows Home
(CNN) — Four-year-old Jacob Spillers was trapped in mud so thick it was like freshly poured concrete.
But the little trooper didn’t panic as rescuers worked to free him from the mudslide that had swallowed most of his house and trapped his father and some other family members Saturday.
“He didn’t cry. He didn’t move. He just stood there and was a very composed little man,” Ed Hrivnak, a volunteer pilot for the Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team, told CNN on Tuesday.
Jacob was upstairs when the mudslide swept through the house. His father and three half-siblings have yet to be found.
Jacob’s dramatic rescue was recorded by a camera on the Snohomish rescue team’s helicopter. It was an uneasy save. The helicopter couldn’t set down on the uneven, sticky soil so it hovered a few feet above the ground. The rotors sucked up debris, chopping up insulation and spitting it all over the scene.
A neighbor was trying to pull Jacob out of the mud. When the man finally got him loose, Jacob came out of his pants, which stayed stuck to the slop.
Still, he was calm as he was passed up into the arms of crew chief Beau Beckner.
“That little guy was very brave,” Beckner wrote on the rescue team’s Facebook page.
Jacob’s mother, Jonielle Spillers, is safe. She was at work during Saturday’s mudslide, which killed at least 16 people and destroyed much of two towns north of Seattle. Another eight bodies have been found but not recovered, officials said.
As of Wednesday, 176 people were unaccounted for, but officials said the number may be smaller since some names may have been duplicated.