Twelve people and a dog were evacuated via a King County Sheriff’s Office chopper after a mudslide destroyed a bridge on the road to and from Mount St. Helens overnight.
The mudslide on State Route 504 happened at around 9 p.m. Sunday near Coldwater Lake, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. There is no estimated time for when the road might reopen.
Tim Uhler was among the 12 people who were airlifted out. He was there to take night sky photos when he learned they would have to stay there overnight.
“The guy came right over and said, ‘Yep, we’re not going home tonight, boss,” Uhler said. “A couple of the guys right off the bat were like there’s no way we’re getting out without a helicopter.”
Discover Your Northwest is a nonprofit company that operates the Johnston Ridge Observatory at the mountain. Executive Director Martin Stamat told KIRO 7 that SR 504 had been set to reopen Monday, which was also the anticipated reopening of the observatory. At least five tour buses were expected to arrive at the observatory Monday.
Stamat said his manager, Karrie Sadler, said the people who were stranded overnight were on the side of the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
“The landslide is quite large, about 200 yards of material,” Gala Miller of the U.S. Forest Service said. “It did damage to the power lines so the power to the forest service facilities up there is no longer functioning.”
At 10:55 a.m. on Monday, King County Sheriff’s Office Air Support tweeted that the mission to evacuate those who were stranded had just wrapped up.
Those who were stranded were helicoptered to Castle Rock. That’s where Tim’s wife, Nickolette was waiting.
“I wasn’t worried about him, the only dangerous part was the helicopter ride and those guys do it all the time. I get the text message, call me before you get on just in case,” she said. As for their car and the six others, they’ll be stuck up there for a while.
“All I was thinking about is how am I going to have this conversation with Geico about my car that’s like still intact but it’s potentially not accessible for months,” Nickolette said.
WSDOT crews are assessing the size of the slide.
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