Last Updated Mar 27, 2014 12:49 PM EDT
First responders are sharing stories of tragedy and survival after last weekend's deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash.
Sixteen bodies have been recovered, but officials said at least nine more had been found as of Wednesday night. Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots said Thursday that officials are not going to count additional recovered victims until the medical examiner's office has caught up with the recovery effort.
He said the number of fatalities is expected to increase substantially within the next 24-48 hours as the medical examiner catches up.
One of the victims found under the mud Wednesday was Summer Raffo. Her brother, Dayn Brunner, a local police officer, has been part of the search all week. He told Blackstone that it was more of a relief than painful when he learned that she was dead.
"In the sense that, OK, this is closure, and just seeing the car just put the exclamation point on the amount of devastation, the amount of force and the amount of physics that were involved with that mountain coming down," Brunner said.
Brunner said his sister likely died instantly because of that amount of force, which he says is a comfort.
"Because that, you know, was one of the concerns - did she suffer, is she still alive?" Brunner said. "And it appeared that she did not suffer at all."
Others were luckier. And for the first time helicopter rescue teams are telling their stories of pulling people from the mud soon after the slide.
Helicopter crew chief Randy Fay scanned the moonscape that was Oso and spotted a 4-year-old boy.
"The kid was in mud, about up to here," Fay said, gesturing to his chest. "... We have no clue how he ended up there by himself."
Fay was overcome describing the moment he saw the boy was alive.
"I'll cry, so maybe that's not a good idea," he told CBS News as he got emotional. "Crap. Sorry."
Even more emotional for rescuers is when there's no sign of life at all.
"Going through the rubble of a home and picking up clothes of these little ones, you know, and holding them in front of me and just looking to see what size are they, you know, how old was this child?" rescue worker Jan McClelland said.
But the searchers go back every day. Even Brunner promises he would return to the mud Thursday to help others find closure.
Brunner said his training helps him handle it.
"Believe me, I've had my moments, ever since day one," said Brunner. "I haven't cried this much probably since I was about 2-and-a-half years old."
Rocky Oliphant was the first Washington State Patrol trooper on the scene of Saturday's landslide.
"Initially, I had no idea how large the slide was," he told CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV. "I saw four volunteer firefighters on scene standing near the edge of the slide."
Two civilians were about halfway out of the house when they yelled back saying there was a woman and a baby.
"The baby was hurt, and the woman had broken legs," Oliphant said.
Rescuers by the house said they would need a path made to be able to walk toward the road.
"I started taking pieces of houses, trusses, roofing, plywood, metal roofing, two-by-fours to create a stable path for them to travel back on," he told KIRO-TV. "A few times I slipped between logs and debris where I could not touch the ground at all. Other spots were about 3 feet deep. It was very unsafe."
One resident walked toward the road holding the baby in a blanket."The further we traveled out into the slide," he said, "the more aware we were of the size and horror of the situation."