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Hero Down: Kalispel Tribal PD Officer Jay Hughes Dies After Medical Emergency While On Disturbance Call

Airway Heights, WA – Kalispel Tribal Police Department (KTPD) Officer Jay Hughes died in the line of duty on Jan. 6 after suffering a heart attack while responding to a disturbance at a casino.

The incident occurred at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino on Jan. 4, according to his obituary.

Officer Hughes, 64, and two other KTPD officers responded to the establishment after receiving a report that a fight was underway on the casino floor, The Spokesman-Review reported.

As they were detaining one of the suspects, Officer Hughes suddenly collapsed.

His fellow officers began performing CPR and called for backup before the veteran officer was rushed to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Officer Hughes underwent surgery and was admitted to the hospital’s Cardiac Intensive Care unit, where he remained until his death on Jan. 6, according to his obituary.

“Officer Hughes was a valued member of our team and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him,” the KTPD said in statement, according to The Spokesman-Review. “He lived a life of service and was selfless with the generosity of his friendship and his time.”

Officer Hughes began his law enforcement career in 1977, when he joined the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) as a cadet, according to his obituary.

He began working as a corrections officer at the Spokane Count Jail the following year.

Officer Hughes graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Reserve Academy in 1990, and went on to serve SCSO as a reserve deputy in addition to working as a lieutenant and assistant director at the jail, according to his obituary.

He retired from SCSO in 2015 after nearly 40 years of service.

The following year, Officer Hughes joined KTPD and began working at the casino.

“Jay was tough on the outside, but he had a big heart and a sharp, witty sense of humor,” the department said, according to the tribute. “He was also known for being thorough, fair, and detail-oriented. He took his supervisory jobs seriously, mentoring other officers and ensuring they learned lessons that would keep them safe in the future.”

“Jay was passionate about helping others and he gave 100-percent every day. We are grateful for his service and are better people for having known and loved him,” the KTPD said.

In addition to serving as a law enforcement officer, he also volunteered as an emergency medical technician, firefighter, training officer, and lieutenant with the Spokane County Fire District 4, according to his obituary.

“He frequently signed out of his day job and reported for a full shift as a volunteer at another,” the tribute read.

Officer Hughes was appointed to the Washington State Board of Volunteer Firefighters and Reserve Officers in 2007, and had served five years as the board’s chairman at the time of his death.

The highly-decorated public servant was also instrumental in growing Washington State’s Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), where he served as co-director.

He was inducted into the LETR Washington Hall of Fame last year, according to his obituary.

Officer Hughes leaves behind his wife, Diane, as well as his children, Sami, Dezi, Patrick, and Heather.

He is also survived by 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Officer Hughes will be laid to rest on Jan. 23.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kalispel Tribal Police Department Officer Jay Hughes, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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