National News from ABC

Death toll in Alaska landslide increases to 4 after body of 11-year-old found

Alaska Department of Public Safety

The body of an 11-year-old girl missing after a landslide in Alaska has been found, increasing the death toll to four, according to state officials.

The body of Kara Heller was found on Saturday just after 6:30 p.m. local time after a scent detection K-9 indicated an area of debris that was then investigated, the Alaska Department of Public Safety announced Sunday.

The death toll from the landslide also includes Kara Heller’s other family members — Timothy Heller, 44; Beth Heller, 36; and Mara Heller, 16 — all of whom were found dead at the scene Tuesday evening, officials said Friday when their identities were released.

Next of kin has been notified of Kara Heller’s death, officials said. Derek Heller, 12, and Otto Florschutz, 65, remain missing, according to the DPS.

The landslide occurred shortly before 9 p.m. local time Monday near Wrangell, a city in the Alaska Panhandle, along the Zimovia Highway at mile 11, officials said.

Three homes were determined to be directly in the path of the landslide: two houses on the mountainside and one on the waterside of the highway, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. One of the mountainside homes is believed to have been empty at the time, officials said.

The landslide is estimated to have measured 500 feet across the highway, officials said.

On Thursday, officials resumed their search for Florschutz and the younger Heller children after all the areas accessible without heavy machinery had been searched.

The Alaska DPS searched the region with several resources including K-9s, drones, boats and helicopters since the landslide struck Monday night, but did not find any signs of the remaining missing persons until Saturday.

A woman who lived on the mountainside of the highway was rescued Tuesday morning and was listed in good condition, according to officials.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a state disaster following the landslide.

Officials had said emergency crews were going to begin to clear the roadway and look to see if the missing people were buried.

“If new evidence or information suggests that any missing people may be in a specific area or slide zone, the Alaska State Troopers may restart the active search focused on that new area,” the Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

ABC News’ Meredith Deliso and Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

On Air Now

Now Playing On X101

Download The X101 App


Site Designed & Hosted by Eves Digital