Three Whatcom County residents reported missing in quake-devastated Nepal

Jeannie DeBari
Jeannie DeBari The Bellingham Herald

Three Whatcom County residents believed to be in Nepal when a massive earthquake struck the country Saturday, April 25, have been reported missing by family and friends desperate to hear from them.

Friends and family said the three were on a trek in Nepal together.

Reported missing was Jeannie DeBari, who once owned Milano’s restaurant in Glacier with husband Tom.

Also missing were Lummi Island couple Jim Lane, 56, and Doreen Richmond, 57, who were on a trek that started in April and was to end June 2, according to a relative’s post on CNN’s iReport.

“They began in Kanchenjunga, on to Makalu, and then possibly Mt. Everest Base Camp,” according to the post.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake triggered an avalanche that buried part of the base camp.

Doreen’s sister, Diane Lobasso, posted a photo of Richmond and DeBari on Facebook.

“I am posting this photo of Doreen and Jeannie DeBari, which was taken on April 1st in Kathmandu, in the hopes that someone can get it to the relief workers in Nepal,” she wrote on the Richmond and Lane’s pages. “They already have the photo of Jim and Doreen.”

So far, four U.S. citizens have been confirmed dead in Nepal, where the death toll has climbed to more than 4,000 people.

Friends and others have been posting on Lane’s Facebook page in an attempt to reach the couple. Queries also have been posted on Google person finder from people trying to find the trio.

“Our hearts tell us you guys are working hard to help others. We are waiting anxiously for some sign, signal, anything telling us you both are are safe,” Michelle Gambrell Starkey wrote on Lane’s Facebook page.

Bill Boyd, former fire chief for Bellingham Fire Department, knows the couple. He sent out a tweet asking for information about the whereabouts of his friends.

Lane is a retired Bellingham Fire Department firefighter.

“This guy, he is what you would call a serious adventurer,” Boyd said in an interview. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t check in because he’s used to being off the grid.”

The two could be on a trail in some remote part of Nepal and may not be able to get information out, he added.

“Sounds like communications (in Nepal) are weak at best,” Bert Sagara wrote in a message on Lane’s page. “Jim didn’t take a phone. Sounds like the trails and roads are in shambles. Aftershocks appear to be subsiding, and deeper.”

Others held out hope that the couple was busy helping others.

“Doreen and Jim are literally two of the strongest, smartest people I know. If there is hope of someone not just making it but helping the Nepali people it is Jim and Doreen. It is a dangerous place but if anyone can survive it is them. They are likely too busy helping others to be worried about talking with us,” Frank James wrote on Richmond’s Facebook page.

Richmond is a retired special education teacher for the Bellingham School District. Since retiring, she also has worked as a substitute teacher for the district.

Meanwhile, Western Washington University said that four students in Nepal as part of the Wildland Studies Program have been accounted for and were safe. They weren’t hurt.