Rafting company offering Oso landslide tour receives cease & desist notice
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.
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.