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Hero Down: Tulalip Tribal PD Officer Charlie Cortez Dies After Patrol Boat Capsizes

Everett, WA – Tulalip Tribal Police Department (TTPD) Officer Charles “Charlie” Cortez died in the line of duty on Tuesday night after his patrol boat capsized during a water rescue, according to police.

The 29-year-old officer was trying to help another vessel when a large wave hit the 24-foot boat carrying him and his partner, 39-year-old TTPD Officer Shawn Edge, Tulalip Tribal Police Chief Chris Sutter said, according to KING.

High winds and heavy rain had made the water around the coastal areas particularly rough, and the wave ended up causing the patrol boat to capsize, according to Chief Sutter.

The officers, both of whom were wearing life vests, were tossed overboard into the 50-degree water, KING reported.

Water rescue crews were dispatched to the scene at approximately 8:30 p.m. and located the capsized boat at about 11:10 p.m.

Shortly before midnight, fishermen in a private vessel spotted Officer Edge floating about three miles away, near Hat Island, KING reported.

Officer Edge was suffering from hypothermia when he was rescued.

He was rushed to Providence Regional Medical Center, and is expected to make a full recovery.

Although search crews were ordered off of the choppy waters early Wednesday morning, 15 private boats continued searching for Officer Cortez throughout the night, KING reported.

His body had not been recovered as of Wednesday afternoon, and police confirmed he is presumed dead.

A multitude of agencies are continuing to search for Officer Cortez’s body, KING reported.

“As our search-and-rescue mission transitions into a search and recovery, we are heartbroken,” Tulalip Tribal Chairwoman Teri Gobin told The Daily Herald in a statement. “Our people are connected to the water and we know the risk when we go out. Today we lost a good man, a father, brother and son.”

Officer Cortez served with TTPD for three years, KING reported.

“Charlie was a wonderful man and officer,” Chief Sutter said. “We are devastated by this loss. Tulalip Fish and Wildlife are often called upon to conduct searches such as this one. I know Charlie would have been there for you, and I can’t say thank you enough to the many individuals and agencies that came together to be there for him.”

“The search for our missing officer will continue until he is brought home,” he added, according to KING.

Officer Cortez, a member of the Tulalip Tribe, is “a father, a son, and a brother to all of us,” Chief Sutter said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Tulalip Tribal Police Department Officer Charles “Charlie” Cortez, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

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

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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.

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Avatar Written by Holly Matkin

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