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Rafting company offering Oso landslide tour receives cease & desist notice

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OSO, Wash. — Survivors have said the site of the Oso landslide is hallowed ground, not a tourist attraction. In documents obtained exclusively by Q13 FOX, attorneys for the victims’ family believe they have legal grounds to stop those tours.

According to notice served to Pacific NW Float Trips, owner David Button has been demanded to cease and desist tours he’s offering at the site of the Oso landslide on the Stillaguamish River. However, Button said the threats won’t be stopping him.

In fact, Button is preparing to give his first commercial trip down the Stillaguamish River on Sunday, a tour that will take his guests through the site of the Oso landslide, where 43 people died.

“I would love for those people against it to come with me and they’ll know what I’m talking about,” said Button.

Data pix.

It’s a trip Button has had to defend before, first when he offered it on Groupon, then again on LivingSocial and now in the midst of a cease and desist letter from attorneys representing several families devastated by the slide. In a notice delivered to button this week, attorney Karen Willie claims Button’s “graveyard tours” aren’t just disrespectful but in violation of land owner rights.  She notes the landslide changed the course of the Stillaguamish River and now runs through property of one of the deceased.  Therefore, she claims Button’s tour would be trespassing.

However, button doesn’t see it that way.

“This is moving water; we don’t stop on anybody’s land; it’s a mile long that we go through, and we’re not trespassing any more than you are driving on the highway,” said Button.

It’s why he plans to proceed with his tours. He insists it isn’t to hurt families affected by the tragedy but to honor them.

“We want to educate people and not to trespass, not to rub it in, but it’s to recognize what happened;  gain knowledge from it so it doesn’t happen again but show respect to those who lost loved ones here,” said Button.

If button fails to stop offering his tours, the notice makes clear the next step will be a lawsuit. The notice also states survivors of the Oso landslide have not seen any proceeds from the tours, as Button’s website and ads claim.

Button said that’s because he hasn’t made any money yet, because his first paid tour isn’t until Sunday.

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  • Magnus

    The survivors and family need to get over themselves. Was it a tragedy? yes, do I feel empathy for their loss? Yes. However that doesn’t mean that they should sue a man for doing his business. It’s stupid and pointless. What bad will come from people visiting the site? If you start here, why allow people to view the USS Arizona memorial? What about the Arlington cemetery? What about the Alamo? Gettysburg? or any of the hundreds of other sites of tragedy around the world?

  • Derek

    being on the river is not trespassing. Showing people a landslide is not a crime. Jesus christ people I am glad your relatives are dead if they are anything like you. Stupid people. i mean what i say.

  • hellomurica

    WTF? Hallowed ground? Look, my heart goes out to the survivors and their families, but knock it off with this nonsense. This is the US – we are free to traverse our nation from top to bottom (for the most part – obviously some place this isn’t allowed for safety or security). This site is significant in that the event which took place must be treated as a warning the surveying is critical to ensuring community safety. Calling it “sacred” and preventing people from viewing it only dooms history to repeat.

  • Red fox

    Why would a river trip around Oso offend them? To me it is just a river rafting trip around a historical event.

  • David

    All bodies were recovered. It’s technically and ethically not sacred/hallowed grounds. Site of a tragedy–yes. Educating people of landslide effects is encouraging. Perhaps other communities will become more aware of the hazards of living in landslide zones and lives will be saved because of these tours.

  • Tina Byard

    The River isn’t owned by any of the surviving families nor did EVER belong to anyone who perished! The River is a natural feature in State of Washington and it can be navigated down, up by anyone who wishes to do so. It also will not become a source of paid tolls to be given to families of survivors. If someone wishes to donate a gift, fine, but this is ridiculous! The River isn’t OWNED BY ANY OF THE COURT PAPER SUBMITTERS! In fact, if anything is wrong here, it is he surviving families who are clearly harassing and stopping a person from doing their normal job to pay the bills they paid long before this occurred!

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