Wash. police officer missing after boat capsized is presumed dead

Due to the weather and frigid temperatures, crews do not believe Tulalip Tribal Police Officer Charlie Cortez survived

Duty Death: Charlie Cortez - [Tulalip, Washington]

End of Service: 11/18/2020


By Christine Clarridge
The Seattle Times

EVERETT, Wash. — Crews were searching Wednesday for a 29-year-old Tulalip Tribal Police Department officer who disappeared in Puget Sound Tuesday night after a rogue wave hit and capsized the boat he was on, according to a statement released by the city of Everett.

Rescue crews do not believe that officer Charlie Cortez survived, Tulalip Tribal Police Chief Chris Sutter indicated Wednesday at a news conference streamed by Q13 Fox.

Tulalip Tribal Police Officer Charlie Cortez
Tulalip Tribal Police Officer Charlie Cortez (Tulalip Police Department)

"We've held out hope for a miracle," Sutter said, but with "the climate and the frigid water here in the Northwest, realistically this mission changed overnight from a rescue to a recovery."

Shortly before 9 p.m. the Everett Fire and Police departments responded to a report of a capsized Tulalip Police Department Fisheries vessel with two occupants in the water somewhere off Jetty Island.

Sutter said the officers were patrolling fishing grounds and investigating a potential poaching situation when a large rogue wave hit the 24-foot patrol boat. Naval Station Everett lost radio contact with the boat's occupants after the wave hit the vessel.

Rescuers found the overturned vessel at 11:10 p.m. and a private vessel found one of the officers, identified later as officer Shawn Edge, at 11:45 p.m. Sutter said the rescued officer was found by tribal fishermen from Tulalip who were helping with the search. He was hypothermic but wearing a life jacket and able to communicate, fire officials said. He was taken to Providence Regional Medical.

Multiple agencies were still involved in the search for Cortez as of Wednesday morning, including the United States Coast Guard, Naval Station Everett, Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, Marysville Fire District, Snohomish County Fire District #22, Tulalip Bay Fire, Camano Island Fire and Rescue and the Port of Everett, as well as Tulalip fishermen and other local tribal members.

"We're here to find our officer and to bring him home and we're not going to change that mission at all," Sutter said.

Sutter said Cortez is a father and a Tulalip tribal member, born and raised in the area.

"Our officer who's missing is not just a co-worker but he's a friend and a brother, and our department is grieving right now," Sutter said. "We have such tremendous support from all the community in Tulalip and we're getting through this together."

(c)2020 The Seattle Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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