Late decision before mudslide saved life of Wash. father

DARRINGTON, Wash. -- The search for victims continues in the mud in Oso, Wash., where at least 24 died when a hill gave way nine days ago. Thirty people are missing. Little more than chance determined who lived and who died.

Steve Sconce with his son, Jed. CBS News
The rain finally stopped Monday, making conditions marginally better for search crews. However, it remains painstaking work.

The change in the weather revealed the beauty of the landscape, but the landslide has left no one here untouched. A late decision in the hours before the slide saved Steve Sconce.

"I went to my son's wrestling match instead," Sconce says.

Thirteen-year-old Jed had qualified for the state wrestling championships, so Sconce canceled plans to help fix the roof at the home of his friend, Billy Spillers.

Child pulled from Washington mudslide in stunning helicopter rescue
"Billy and at least four of his five or six children are under the ground now," Sconce says, acknowledging that if he had been on the roof of the home, he'd be gone, too.

Four-year-old Jacob Spillers, who was pulled from the mud by helicopter, is the only person at the house that day who survived.

At church on Sunday, Sconce spoke about how the close call had changed him -- and how the mudslide had changed everyone in the town.

"I think we've all been humbled. We feel about that big, don't we," he said Sunday, holding his fingers close together. "We're trying to provide and do all we can do in this community, but it's not enough."

There are 10 children in the Sconce family.

"I realized, wow, that could have been my husband," says Sconce's wife, Crystal. "And I'm grieving for a friend of mine whose husband was down working on a home and is no longer with us. And so every day, I look at him and just say, 'You're with me.'"

Jed came in second in the wrestling championships. He has a silver medal, but more importantly, he has a father.

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.