Letters to the Editor

Look above for answers to Rolling Bay's landslides

Recent articles in local papers of recurring slides in the Rolling Bay and other Bainbridge areas rekindle memories of the dramatic destruction of our family of the slide that killed Dwight and Jenny Cantrell-Herren and their two infant sons in January 1997.

Two seconds changed a vibrant family’s existence into 14 years of grief and regret, which we have survived only because of Bainbridge Island’s reaching out to us. Both dads who lovingly helped building the destroyed house – Vern Herren and Harold Cantrell – may have had their heart conditions put on “fast forward” because of the tragedy. Both have died since.

Included in some condolences were pleas for us to “exact retribution from those responsible for the cause of the slide” and promises to support us in that effort. The complicated geological and climatic aspects of the slide, indeed, caused conflict within and between the two families.

Shared legal counsel resulted in a close decision to go on with our lives, foregoing lengthy, costly litigation that would not bring back our family. Like the unstable hillside, a mountain of questions still haunt us today.

This week’s Kitsap Sun coverage of the slide (“City may give up on landslide-prone road”) includes this paragraph:

“A 2008 geotechnical report commissioned by Gertie Johnson residents indicated that runoff from the yards, roofs and septic systems on the hillside above the road are contributing to soil saturation that has triggered nine or more slides since 1960...”

This was the ugly suspect in the mystery of the Rolling Bay disaster, but it was denied by builders, uphill property owners and others. I know that you, who live in the shadow of danger, are weary of advice and your own self-questioning.

You may have already concurred with the above quote. I believe that this is where to look for the answer to the uneasy earth above you. I pray that you will take heed and make plans accordingly.

Janet M. Herren/Waller

Bainbridge Island

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