The remote Alaskan community of Wrangell has been shattered after a devastating landslide claimed the lives of five members of the Heller family and longtime neighbor Otto Florschutz earlier this week. On Monday evening, a torrent of mud and debris came barreling down a slope, enveloping the home of Timothy and Beth Heller and their three children—Mara, 16, Derek, 12, and Kara, 11.
Search and rescue teams worked tirelessly through thick brush and unstable terrain to pull the bodies of the parents and eldest daughter from the rubble. But as of Friday, the two younger Heller children still remain missing, leaving the town of less than 2,500 residents on edge as hope dims with each day.
Also presumed dead is Otto Florschutz, the family's 65-year-old neighbor known as a dedicated commercial fisherman and former long-shot House candidate proud to call Wrangell home.
For the isolated island community located near the tip of Alaska's Inside Passage, it's a loss that cuts to the core. Families like the Hellers form the fabric of the town, deeply woven into the lives of fellow residents through generations of friendship, labor, and community service.
As the initial shock gives way to grief, Wrangell has come together with a singular focus—to support one another in recovering and rebuilding, motivated by the resilience and unity that comes with living on the rugged frontier of the Alaskan Panhandle. For now, the search continues for young Derek and Kara. And the people of Wrangell forge ahead the only way they know how: as one.