Mudslide survivor describes losing his wife, digging his way out

Updated:

Loading
EVERETT, Wash. —

Gary "Mac" McPherson fought his way out of a landslide Saturday, but his scars are nothing compared to the loss of his wife Linda.

Saturday, a wall of mud crashed and threw the McPhersons’ home more than 100 yards away.

“I had no sensation that the house had been pushed sideways, vertically. None," said McPherson.

He described it as if someone had put their farm in a blender.

“Instead of making a margarita, you just keep mixing it and mixing it and mixing it. And when spun faster, it blew the top off. Boom,” McPherson said.

He and Linda were in recliners side by side. He was lucky and had a free hand to grab a wooden stick from the splintered chair.

McPherson said he kept digging, until he could see a tiny hole of light.

“I keep trying to talk to Linda, but they tell me she must have been gone by then,” he said.

He called for her to dig, but she gave no response. Eventually, he waved his stick through the hole until an EMT found him.

During the slow and carefully calculated extraction, McPherson kept telling first responders to help his wife. But they just told him to relax. He said they probably already knew she was gone.

Later, his daughter Kate found him at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley. Her father had not broken a single bone.

She said family members continued to tell her that her mother was gone, but she couldn’t process it. She kept thinking her mom was still missing.

Days later, Kate McPherson is still texting her mother on her phone, knowing she won’t get an answer.

She said she sends messages “that I miss her, that I want her to be here. And it’s not fair that she’s gone.”

Mac and Linda were married for more than 40 years. They met doing oceanography research on a ship departing Nome, Alaska.

Linda McPherson later worked as the librarian in Darrington and served on the school board.

McPherson described his wife as the cogwheel that made everything go ‘round.

“We were just two people that meshed. She was gentle, but persuasive. She was a planner,” he said.

But no planning could have prepared them for this tragedy.

Want to talk about the news of the day? Watch free streaming video on the KIRO 7 mobile app and iPad app, and join us here on Facebook.