Cle Elum, WA – Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Steven “Steve” Houle died on Monday after being swept up in an avalanche while snowmobiling in the French Cabin Creek area, according to his department.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and Kittitas County Search and Rescue (KCSR) crews responded to the recreation area after receiving a report at approximately 12:40 p.m. regarding two men who had been overtaken by an avalanche near the Knox Creek Trailhead, KCSO said in a press release.
One of the men managed to dig himself out of the snow and made his way to the French Cabin Creek sno-park to place the call for help, the sheriff’s office said.
A KCSR team recovered the body of the second victim at approximately 7 p.m.
He was identified as 51-year-old Trooper Houle.
“On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to Trooper Houle’s family, friends and the Washington State Patrol,” Kittitas County Sheriff Clayton Myers said on Monday evening. “This is a tragic accident and will be felt hard in our close-knit law enforcement community.”
Trooper Houle served the WSP’s Commercial Vehicle Division for 28 years, according to his department.
WSP confirmed he had been out snowmobiling when the avalanche hit.
“Steve was a great person and an excellent employee, loved and respected by us all,” WSP Chief John Batiste said in the press release. “We hold his memory and his family close to our hearts in this painfully sad time.”
During a press conference Monday night, Chief Batiste described Trooper Houle as a “fixture” in Kittitas County, CNN reported.
“A lot of troopers have come and gone through Kittitas County and he’s been one of those stabilizing troopers that everyone knew,” the chief explained. “He was great at what he did not just as a trooper but an expert at commercial vehicle enforcement. He’s someone you could always depend on.”
Trooper Houle was a husband, father, and a friend, according to his department.
— Jennifer Lawson (@JenKOMOProducer) February 9, 2021
WSP has confirmed that Trooper Steve Houle, a 28 year veteran of the WSP is the victim of the avalanche incident and has been found deceased. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family, friends and coworkers as they process the loss of a father, husband and friend.
— WA State Patrol (@wastatepatrol) February 9, 2021
A procession of law enforcement and rescue vehicles stretch down Rt. 903 honoring Trooper Steve Houle pic.twitter.com/8Tw6JkdOoj
— Vanessa Misciagna (@Vanessa_K5) February 9, 2021
A small glimpse into the presence from several law enforcement agencies tonight showing their respect after WA State Trooper Steve Houle was found dead this evening after being hit by an avalanche. Dozens of officers are in the area, mourning the loss of their dear friend. pic.twitter.com/ViHLcKZWqs
— Olivia LaVoice Q13 (@Q13Olivia) February 9, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Washington State Patrol Trooper Steven “Steve” Houle, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.