I SPOKE WITH SUMMER’S BROTHER… You need to read about his courage – and remind yourselves about your good fortunes today…

Yes, I know it is tax day…

This story should make you take a hard look – how bad is your life right now, really?…

Summer Raffo was lost in the unfathomable mudslide in Oso, Washington several days ago.


Summer Raffo was swept off of this planet by a 40′ tall wave of mud going 193 miles per hour.

I’m going to let that sink in for a bit…

40 feet tall.

193 miles per hour.

She didn’t have a chance.

When her brother uncovered her – yes, her own brother unearthed her – he said her hands were still on the steering wheel.

She never knew what hit her.

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You can see the enormity of the slide area in this view. Summer was driving on the road just below the landslide exactly when it hit.

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Summer had been driving to a farrier appointment – she was always punctual. This put her directly in harms way.


It is difficult to show what a 70 foot tall wave of mud going 193 mph can do…

DAYN’S STORY – Even if it is tax day, you will never suffer this…

I felt privileged that Dayn returned my call.  His family/town was in the midst of the unthinkable… Burying loved ones who were taken by this horrendous landslide in Oso, Washington.

Yet, he took the time to tell Summer’s story to me.

And I want to tell you her story so that you can put a face to the name and a heart to the soul.

If I was to sum it up in a sentence, Summer was like a breeze of good will who touched everyone in the town.

Everyone knew her.

She worked three jobs, was always on time, gave of herself to so many of her friends and loved horses.  She didn’t just love them, she ‘had a way’ with them.

Everyone said so.

Summer riding one of her  Arabians.

Summer riding one of her beloved Arabians.


(I’m paraphrasing what an emotional Dayn imparted to me.)

Dayn said that his mother and Summer had an almost spiritual connection.  They bonded over the horses.  Summer and her mother, at one point, bred/raised/trained Arabians.  They had up to 87 horses at one time.  Now, Summer had her 19 horses and every day she would help her mother at her farm with her horses.

So, when their mother, Rae, called Dayn from out of town with the frantic news that she had just heard about the slide and she knew Summer was in it – Dayn thought his Mom was over-reacting, but he feared she might be right…

Summer had just spoken to her Mother and had said that she was about to leave to go to a trimming appointment she had for a friend (everyone was a friend…).  Dayn was quick to mention that Summer was punctual to a fault.  If her appointment time was at 11am,  Summer would have left at 10:40 which would have gotten her where she needed to be a bit ahead of time.

It would have also put her in the path of the mudslide reported on the radio.

Dayn tried to reach his sister, but her phone was acting strangely.  Instead of ringing and going to voicemail, it wasn’t working at all.  He knew this was not right because Summer carried a military type phone that had extensive range.

He called the appointment house.  Summer hadn’t arrived.

So, Dayn got in his car to go down to the slide – which he figured was a few meters long and was probably going to inconvenience the town for a few hours while the road crew pushed away the debris and rocks from the asphalt.  He figured his sister was stuck on one side or the other.

But, he had an unsettled feeling… why didn’t her phone work?

As he arrived to the area, his brain could not fathom what he was seeing.  It just didn’t compute… What was he seeing…?  Where was the road?  What was this massive debris field?

Literally, Dayn said he parked in front of a 20 foot wall of mud with the unthinkable folded inside of it – like cake batter – furniture, wood, wire, everything… bodies – were inside.

Dayn went into brain shock, but he continued because he needed to find his sister.  At that moment, he knew his mother was right.

“Dayn, she’s in there!”

She-Ra, Summer's heart horse.  This mare passed just this winter at 32 years.

She-Ra, Summer’s heart horse. This mare passed just this winter at 32 years.

Summer was an avid trail rider and would take anyone riding.  She always exuded confidence out there...

Summer was an avid trail rider and would take anyone riding. She always exuded confidence out there…

Summer was always with horses - that is why she took up farrier work, simply to help the horses.

Summer was always with horses – that is why she took up farrier work, simply to help the horses.



The bittersweet part of a small town is that all of your friends are helping you find your loved ones – their loved ones…

Day after Day, sunrise to sunset, Dayn went down to the site to look for his sister.

I cannot even imagine that…

All of the workmen knew Summer.  They all knew her truck.  They all held out hope.

On the fifth day, one of the rescue workers found a bit of blue metal showing through the mud approximately 200 feet away from where the original road had been.

The workmen started digging because they had a feeling it was Summer’s blue truck.

Four feet below, they found more metal and they knew it was a car.  So, they called Dayn to come over.

It was Dayn who dug out his sister.

He said it was a miracle that the cab of her truck was intact.  She was there, whole.  What he saw made him feel relieved…

She was still holding the wheel.  She never knew what hit her.

The geologists said that via their calculations, the mud had been traveling at 193 miles per hour.  With her radio on, Summer would never have known what hit the car, filled it and carried her 200 feet off the road.  The compression would have killed her instantly.

Mystique, another favorite horse.

Mystique, another favorite horse.

She loved working her horses - they went out all the time.

She loved working her horses – they went out all the time.


Dayn held his sister and gave her his mother’s message.

And then he gave her body to the coroner.

It wasn’t her anymore.  Her soul had been freed.

Summer's neice (Dayn's daughter) on one of Summer's horses.

Summer’s niece (Dayn’s daughter) on one of Summer’s horses.


I know it is tax time… but this story is simply gut wrenching.

Summer was young, healthy and the person who cared for all of her horses as well as did most of the work at her mother’s ranch.

Now she is gone, the family is devastated and her horses are left wondering…

I would like to ease the huge responsibility of 19 horses and let Summer know that strangers appreciate her plight and will help her family care for these beloved horses who will remain with the family – save a few who will go to trusted friends.

Yes, it is tax time… how about your Starbucks money?  Car seat change?  Hubby’s coin dish?

Thank you!

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Hopefully SheRa and Summer have met again...Thank you!

Hopefully SheRa and Summer have met again…Thank you!

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7 comments have been posted...

  1. LaVerne

    Thank you for sharing this. My heart is breaking for the town of Oso and more. A local woman from Quilcene lost her brother in the slide. Mr. Satterlie I believe. Please forgive if I spelled his name wrong. I ppassed this story on to many others. God Bless.

  2. Stephanie Johnsen

    Summer smiles me when pick my
    Horses ..My heartache / crying when I saw the news about her.. I want thank to summer for her horse transportion few times..She smiles in my heart..I always love

  3. Valerie Barker

    Summer was a beautiful soul. I am proud to have known her, and shared the love of horses with her. The photos of her on the sorrel with the white socks is a mare she bought from me. Will miss her forever.

  4. Kimberly Larson

    This family is amazing, the strength and courage they have all shown through this indescribable tragedy is inspiring. When times are tough, this small town pulls together. Even after finding his sister Dayne continued on to find other friends family. God bless them all.

  5. Bob & Doris Craig

    Our thoughts and care go to all in Oso area. With such tragedy, all the community will be affected.
    Go on as best you can and keep the good memories you have of family and friends. This is but only
    a few days out of a lifetime….. and many more good days are coming. We care for you all.

  6. KD

    How kind of Summer’s brother to speak with you and share Summer’s spirit with us. May God bless her family and those helping with her horses.

  7. Gail

    I live in Pennsylvania ….usually,when we think about how small the world really is and how interconnected we all are it’s a good thing.
    I waited all my life to buy a horse and chose 1 ( via a picture on the internet) that had been born at Summer and Rae’s farm. He is 1 of Shera’s sons and I have a photo of Summer in the stall with him shortly after he was born.
    When I heard about the mudslide,I had the passing thought that I hoped it wasnt anywhere near where Reggie came from because they seemed like nice people.
    Then I heard the devastating fact …..
    I feel humbled and small every time I think about what happened.
    My horse brought with him the kind, gentle and loving spirit of this family and I will honor the memory of this person who I never met forever………praying for some small measure of peace and a way to begin to heal.

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