Brendan Weber

Rescuers Pull Woman From Home Wrecked by Sausalito Mudslide

The woman, who was 'pinned within the debris in her home, encased in mud,' is expected to make a full recovery

Rescuers pulled a mud-caked woman from the debris of a mangled home that slid down a saturated hill during a mudslide in Sausalito early Thursday morning, according to fire officials.

The mudslide dislodged the home, which was located along the 400 block of Sausalito Boulevard, from its foundation and sent it sliding "some distance" before it slammed into at least one other residence, according to Southern Marin Fire Protection District Chief Chris Tubbs. 

The woman was "pinned within the debris in her home, encased in mud," but rescuers managed to spot her hand in the wreckage and save her, Capt. Doug Paterson with the Southern Marin Fire Protection District said.

"Surprisingly, she was in great condition," Paterson said. "She was talking to us. She was alert. She was able to tell us exactly what had happened."

Daybreak video of the Sausalito mudslide that trapped a woman in her house after it slid down a hill during the second day of heavy rain. “Surprisingly, she was in great condition,” Capt. Doug Paterson with the Southern Marin Fire District said.

Firefighters said the woman, identified as Susan Gordon, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. She has since been released and is expected to make a full recovery.

"She just couldn't believe that she had survived the ride down the hill," Paterson said.

Paterson admitted that first responders had their doubts about people surviving the slide when they first arrived to the scene.

"Based on what we saw and the condition of the home, we didn't think anybody would survive that, but once we got closer to the house, we could hear [the woman]  screaming for help."

Gordon's son, who lives in Virginia, was on his way to the Bay Area late Thursday to be with his mother.

"Miraculously she was able to escape with bumps, bruises and scratches," Brooks Gordon said in a phone interview.

Brooks Gordon said that when he gets to Sausalito, he will help his mother sift through the mud to find anything salvageable.

"She lost everything," he said. "Pictures, mementos, everything that she has in that house. I know that's killing her right now."

In addition to the two homes, the mudslide destroyed five vehicles. Four other buildings nearby have been red tagged by engineers who deemed the homes unsafe for anyone to enter, Interim Director of Public Works and City Engineer David Bracken said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The department is having engineers and experts look at the soil and structure stability in the area. "If we had concerns here about other homes that aren't red tagged, they'd be red tagged," Bracken responded to a question about safety concerns.

At least 50 homes surrounding the scene of the mudslide were evacuated after the hillside gave way, officials said. In addition to the slide, crews had to deal with a broken gas line and multiple downed power lines.

"It is absolutely amazing that we're not talking about a lost of life at this time, Sausalito Mayor Joe Burns said.

A GoFundMe page set up by Brooks had raised more than $20,000 in a less-than 24-hour period. 

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