A visit from an old friend saves Kirkland couple from Oso mudslide

By Julie Muhlstein

Herald writer

The mudslide that occurred on March 22 in the small town of Oso has killed dozens and left nearly 100 missing. It has impacted residents throughout the Puget Sound area.

But Kirkland residents Davis and Ruth Hargrave might be two of the luckiest ones.

The Hargraves believe their vacation home is gone, but the couple’s lives may have been spared by happenstance.

They bought their cabin on Steelhead Drive about 15 years ago. Davis Hargrave, a 73 year old retired architect, put countless hours of labor into turning the place that was once an “old beater.” He built it into the couple's dream getaway spot.

“It is just a cabin but it is just a little jewel box,” said Ruth Hargrave, 67.

The Kirkland couple had planned to be at the cabin on the weekend of the slide but plans changed when a friend from Australia paid them a visit on her way back from skiing at Whistler.

“It was just a simple decision,” Davis Hargrave said, and that decision to stay in Kirkland probably saved their lives.

The Hargraves were at the roadblock on Highway 530 on Monday hoping to learn about their neighbors. Up Highway 530, at the intersection with Oso Loop Road, Washington State Patrol troopers blocked traffic. A number of people who had been allowed to stay in their homes near the slide had left for supplies. They had to wait about four hours that afternoon before being allowed back in.

Davis Hargrave said he only learned that one friend from Steelhead Drive was alive when he read in the newspaper that the man was at an evacuation center in Arlington.

“That was really good news. They left 10 minutes before the slide,” Davis Hargrave said.

Julie Muhlstein is a reporter for the Everett Herald, a sister paper of the Kirkland Reporter. She can be contacted at 425-339-3460 or by email

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