The youngest survivor of the mudslide that destroyed a neighborhood in Oso, Wash., remained hospitalized but was improving Monday. And his family could not be more grateful.
Five-month-old Duke Suddarth and his mother, Amanda Skorjanc, 25, were pulled from the debris shortly after the mudslide March 22. Duke was listed in serious condition Monday in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. His mom was in satisfactory condition.
WASH. MUDSLIDE: 21 confirmed dead
Two other mudslide victims were listed in serious condition and one other was satisfactory, Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.
"All the patients are improving, which is very good news," Gregg told USA TODAY. "This obviously has been a very difficult period for many people in the area."
The families of Duke and his mother issued a statement over the weekend thanking the people who helped saved their lives.
"We are so grateful to all the responders who jeopardized their safety in order to pull Duke and Amanda out of the debris, " the Skorjanc and Suddarth families said. "Words alone cannot tell you how thankful we are. Our hearts and support continue to go out to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy."
Kody Wesson was one of the lifesavers. He told KIRO-TV in Seattle he was driving on Highway 530 when the slide hit. He got out of his car and heard a baby's cries. Ignoring an order from a state trooper to stay away, Wesson said he waded into the debris.
"You gotta help 'em. How can you not? What are you supposed to do, you can't just stand there and watch," Wesson told the TV station.
He found the baby, and the trooper and other witnesses joined him in the rescue, he said.
"I could see the baby's face. It was all bruised up," said Wesson. He said Duke's mother was nearby, but her legs appeared to be broken.
"She said his name was Duke. I asked if I could take him out of there," Wesson told the KIRO.
Meanwhile, the arduous search for bodies continued at the site. A service road cut through the debris over the weekend, along with improved weather conditions, made the going a bit easier Monday. More than 20 people were confirmed dead from the slide, and about 30 remained missing.
The Army has set up decontamination points at the site for the workers. Officials say the mud could be contaminated by household waste and other chemicals released by the slide.