SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Members of a local search team known as Strike Force 7 are back home from Washington after a long search effort following a deadly mudslide.

The death toll from the March 22 Oso mudslide rose to 39 on Wednesday as two more victims were announced.

“We knew we were in a recovery mode,” said Sacramento Battalion Chief Chris Costamagna.

He and the rest of the team knew they were sent to Washington to find bodies. They arrived after a 16-hour drive from Sacramento with a team made up of 70 searchers, 10 drivers, two physicians and search dogs. They would dig for a dozen days, alongside grieving family members and local firefighters.

About 55 miles northeast of Seattle, Highway 530 is still covered with mud and trees up to 25 feet deep.

“We know we’re there recovering people, but you want to make sure every family has closure, and the best way to have closure is to know your loved one has been found,” Costamagna said.

Another seven people are still listed as missing. The team recently returned to Sacramento, but many wanted to stay.

“Nobody was ready to leave,” he said. “They wanted to stay longer.”

They wanted to help more, just like they did following the Sept. 11 attacks, and after Hurricane Katrina.

They go. They search. They rescue.


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