By Caroleine James
Wrangell Sentinel 

Searchers find body of Otto Florschutz


November 29, 2023

The body of Otto Florschutz, 65, was recovered from the landslide area at 11-Mile Zimovia Highway shortly before 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, 10 days after he was declared missing in the slide.

With help from scent-detection dogs, Wrangell Search and Rescue and other volunteers located and recovered the body from the landslide debris, according to an Alaska Department of Public Safety announcement on Friday, Dec. 1.

Derek Heller, 12, is the only missing person who has still not been found from the slide that killed his parents and two sisters.

Crews “continue with reactive searching, as any new information or evidence leads to a specific search area,” according to the state announcement.

Otto Florschutz’s wife, Christina, survived the Nov. 20 slide and was rescued the next morning.

As work continues at the disaster site, the Alaska Department of Transportation has provided the borough with new measurements of the slide’s impact: Previous reports had estimated the slide at 1,500-feet long, but it actually stretches over twice that far. The distance from the top of the slide to the beach line is 3,733 feet.

When the measurement takes the slide’s intertidal runout into account, that distance is closer to 4,000 feet.

The distance from the end of City Dock, down Front Street to the Marine Bar, and then to the far end of Shakes Island, is about 4,000 feet.

The slide was 449-feet wide where it covered Zimovia Highway. Teams working to clear debris reopened the road to restricted traffic on Nov. 27.

The debris field is 715 feet across at its widest point and 95 feet across at its smallest point, which is near the top of the mountain.

The slide covers a total area of about 38 acres. For reference, Shustak Peninsula, which wraps around Inner Harbor, has an area of about 35 acres.


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