OSO, Wash. -- Despite opposition from survivors, even threats of a lawsuit from victims' attorneys, a rafting company took paying customers through the site of the Oso landslide for the first time Sunday.
Of the number of rafting trips he`s offered in his forty years of business, few have been as controversial for Captain Dave Button as the one on the Stillaguamish River.
For the first time, he took customers through the site of the Oso landslide, where 43 people died.
“They are concerned that I am taking people through a graveyard,” Button acknowledges.
It`s an accusation that has Button facing a cease and desist notice from victims` families, but it still didn`t stop him from taking a tour down the river Sunday, through calm but at times tough and shallow waters.
The controversy didn`t stop Mark Krmopotich from paying to go on the trip.
“I`m not here to disrespect,” said Krmopotich. “I`m just here to enjoy the nature, really see a different perspective of what really happened.”
But the obstacles on the water were just the beginning of what would come in the end, where Seth Jefferds was waiting. He is an Oso Volunteer Firefighter, who lost both his wife and granddaughter in the slide. He believes these tours are exploiting his family`s heartache.
“Right now I`m angry," said Jefferds. "I’m heartbroken all day long, everyday. Right now I`m angry because this shouldn`t happen."
Buttton said he understands their pain, but his intention isn`t to hurt rather to educate.
Sunday’s trip may be the first and last of the season, but Button said it’s not because of the cease and desist notice but because of the conditions of the river.