A U.S. Navy commander, who spent years in San Diego, has been found dead in the aftermath of a devastating mudflow in Washington state, his father confirmed to NBC 7.
Cmdr. Leon “John” Regelbrugge III had been in the Navy for 32 years. He spent about eight years stationed at Naval Air Station North Island, according to his father, John Regelbrugge Sr.
“He was a commander and would have made captain shortly, too,” Regelbrugge Sr. said.
His father said that on Saturday morning, Regelbrugge and his wife were supposed to leave the house, but slept in instead.
As they slept, mud covered one square mile around the towns of Oso and Darrington, about 55 miles from Seattle.
“If that mudslide had been a half-mile the other way, there would be no homes to wipe out,” Regelbrugge Sr. said.
Regelbrugge Sr. said his son and daughter-in-law had five children. He said his grandson who lives at home was at work that morning, narrowly missing the mudflow.
The victim’s brothers and sons joined the search efforts in Oso. His father said they discovered the bodies of Regelbrugge, his wife and the family dog Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday night, officials reported the death toll had risen to 16. Eight more bodies were believed to have been found, but hadn’t been recovered, according to Snohomish County District Fire Chief Travis Holt. They did not find any survivors.