Bothell man missing in Oso mudslide

By Dan Catchpole

Herald staff writer

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.

The couple make their home in Bothell but Ron has not returned since March 22.

She and one of their grown children were waiting in downtown Arlington on March 24 for news from the site of the massive Oso mudslide.

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

"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.

Heavy rains lightened this morning, helping crews progress in their search for victims in the 530 landslide. Approximately 620 personnel, including 160 volunteers, are working the slide area from both sides.

Today the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office reported 21 confirmed fatalities. Of those, 15 have been identified and six are awaiting identification. Crews have located an additional four victims in the slide.

A service road opened yesterday, March 29, to help responders access the entire slide area, and move personnel, food and equipment from one side of the slide to the other. These operations are maxing out the road’s capacity. The road is not open to the public.

"What a nightmare, it's a living nightmare," she said.

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.


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