Former Chartiers man’s body found in Wash. mudslide

April 7, 2014
An undated photo of the Spillers family

Search crews located the body of Chartiers-Houston High School graduate Billy Spillers more than two weeks after a mudslide destroyed the neighborhood in Oso, Wash., where he lived with his family.

The Snohomish County medical examiner’s office announced Monday that it identified the remains of the 30-year-old Spillers, who grew up in Chartiers Township, and said he died of multiple injuries in the March 22 mudslide.

The disappearance of Spillers jarred Chartiers-Houston School District, where he graduated in 2001, and the community held a candlelight vigil for him and his family March 28. He was an all-conference defensive end in football and also played basketball during high school.

John Haught, who coached Spillers in high school, was saddened to learn the news and preferred to remember his former football player as someone who was a “go-getter with a great attitude.”

“Billy was just a good person,” Haught said. “It’s such a sad situation for all of the families out there. Knowing Billy personally, it’s a very sad ending. I feel bad for the entire community out there.”

Haught said Spillers’ blossoming military career and his “nice family” made the tragedy even harder to accept.

“I don’t think anyone expected such tragic circumstances,” Haught said.

A year after graduating high school, Spillers joined the U.S. Navy and eventually moved west. Spillers recently attained the rank of chief petty officer and worked as a Navy counselor at the Naval Intermediate Maintenance Facility Pacific Northwest Detachment in Everett, Wash.

Mary St. John, the administrator running the fundraising website to help his family with funeral expenses, wrote on the page that Spillers would have celebrated his 31st birthday Sunday. By Monday afternoon, the website raised more than $47,000 for Spillers’ widow, Jonielle, in the two weeks after it launched.

The addition of Spillers to the victims list brings the mudslide death toll to 33, while 10 more people, including his daughter, Brooke, remain missing. Spillers’ 5-year-old daughter, Kaylee, was found dead in the mudslide March 28, and the body of his stepson, Jovon Mangual, was identified April 3.

Spillers’ wife was not home at the time of the mudslide. A helicopter crew rescued the couple’s 4-year-son, Jacob, and the footage of him being pulled from the rubble became a lone bright spot for crews searching for victims.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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