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Washington Mudslide Survivor 'Took 6 Breaths,' Started Digging

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A retired lumber mill worker reportedly "took six breaths and calmed himself down" before digging his way to safety after his home was swept away by the deadly Washington mudslide.

Gary "Mac" McPherson, 81, was spending Saturday morning with his wife Linda when a section of hillside over the Stillaguamish Valley began to race toward their house.

McPherson recalls hearing a roar and saw trees twisting in the force of the onrushing mud, which he assumed was a tornado. He later regained consciousness in his chair and started to dig himself out, according to account told to the Los Angeles Times by his daughter, Kate. He called for his 69-year-old wife, but she had not survived.

"He doesn't remember the impact of the mud," McPherson's 38-year-old daughter told the newspaper. "He doesn't remember the house going across the pasture.... He took six breaths and calmed himself down. He thought, and he started digging."

McPherson spent two days in hospital and is now with his extended family.

Two more bodies were pulled from the debris field on Tuesday. No one has been found alive since Saturday, when the mudslide happened.

- Alexander Smith
Image: Flowers are left on debris next to a demolished home where a woman's body was found following a deadly mudslide
Flowers were next to a demolished home Tuesday where a woman's body was found following a deadly mudslide.Elaine Thompson / AP

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