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Canonsburg native's body found in Wash. mud

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Monday, April 7, 2014, 11:39 a.m.
 

Search teams in Washington state recovered the body of a former Canonsburg man who went missing in the March 22 landslide about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

Billy L. Spillers, 30, who lived with his family in Arlington, Wash., died of blunt-force injuries, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office reported on Monday. A spokeswoman working with disaster responders would not talk about his case.

Spillers is among 33 people confirmed dead in the landslide, including his children, Kaylee Spillers, 5, and Jovon Mangual, 13. The medical examiner's office named 30 of the deceased and is working to identify the others.

“It's a tragic thing that I don't think anybody is ever prepared for,” said retired guidance counselor John Haught of Houston in Washington County, who was Spillers' football coach at Chartiers-Houston Junior-Senior High School.

Haught said Spillers was popular, outgoing and well-liked in high school, where he was a defensive end and a basketball player. Spillers graduated in 2001 and joined the Navy, working most recently as a command career counselor in Everett, Wash.

“I think the athleticism he displayed brought attention to him,” Haught said. “He was a nice kid, a good student, never any problem or trouble — just a nice young man and a good citizen.”

A native of New Albany in Bradford County, Spillers earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2008 from Strayer University, according to a Navy-supplied biography. He enlisted in October 2002, won service-related awards, and served at sea, including the Western Pacific Ocean and the Arabian Sea, the Navy said.

Several relatives and friends could not be reached for comment, and a Navy spokeswoman said the family has not released information about memorial services. A March 28 candlelight vigil at the Chartiers-Houston football field raised more than $1,300 to help Spillers' wife, Jonielle, and the rest of their family.

A fund at YouCaring.com listed more than $45,700 in donations for the family, including son Jacob, 4. Rescuers pulled Jacob from the landslide shortly after mud and debris inundated about 1.2 square miles.

Jacob's sister Brooke, 2, remains among a dozen people missing. Jonielle Spillers was at work when the disaster struck, family friends said earlier.

About 350 National Guard soldiers and more than 500 others are helping the search-and-recovery effort, said Meg Matthews, a spokeswoman for the responders. She said the Army Corps of Engineers will build a temporary berm this week in a saturated area to help workers drain five to 10 feet of water.

“Right now the dogs we have out there can't do a whole lot of detecting through water,” Matthews said. She said workers want “to bring closure to as many families as possible.”

An investigation into the cause of the landslide continues.

Adam Smeltz is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.

 

 

 
 


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