Officer Charlie Cortez is a Tulalip native who many knew and is presumed lost at sea after his boat capsized on Nov. 17

 Tulalip community members arranged a parade of vehicles that drove through Tulalip on Dec. 12 to support the family of the presumed deceased Charlie Cortez.

Officer Cortez, 29, was a member of the Tulalip Tribal Police's Fish and Wildlife Division and was out at sea on the job on Nov. 17 when his boat capsized.

While the other officer on the boat was recovered, Cortez has not been found.

Many in the community are still grieving the loss of Cortez, who is from Tulalip. 

"Charlie grew up here at Tulalip and was an active person in the outdoors, from motorcycle riding to hunting to geoduck diving," said Glen Gobin, vice chairman of the Tulalip Tribes. "He interacted with all of us down here on the water so we all knew him very well and watched him grow up."

"To watch a man who was rising from a police officer and in my opinion would have been a future leader in this tribe, and then to lose him suddenly in the active function of his job was devastating," said Gobin.

Gobin said his thoughts go out to the family at this time.

"Unless you've experience this kind of loss before I don't think any of us can grasp the pain that family is going through right now," he said.

Tulalip Tribal Police Chief Chris Sutter said the department is a small tribal department that is very close.

"Our officers are really mourning the loss of their beloved co-worker, friend and brother. Every day we go to work honoring and remembering him," said Sutter. "Officer Cortez was the kind of guy that always took an assignment with a smile. Always very respectful of people. He knew everybody because he grew up in Tulalip."

A parade organized by community members was held Dec. 12 to honor Officer Cortez and support his family.

"It's difficult to take the next steps after these kind of losses so this type of event is very healing," said Gobin.

Police and fire departments from around the county, including Marysville, Arlington, Lynnwood and Monroe, participated in the parade with some of their emergency vehicles.

Many who knew Cortez or know one of his family members also came out to watch the parade.

"I work with his aunt and I came down to support the community and the family," said local Tami Runyon.

Gobin said that outside support is important at a time like this.

"The community came together to put this parade together to show support for the family and show them that they're not alone and they feel their pain," he said. "Sometimes you feel all alone at times like this, but the outpouring of support from everywhere has been phenomenal."

Search and rescue groups are still working to recover the body of Cortez.

"Today we had the King County Search and Rescue team with their specially trained K-9 teams out on the water," said Sutter, who added that many local county and city agencies have helped search during the last three weeks.

"We've had private boats doing highly advanced sonar, we've used underwater drones, aircraft, helicopters, aerial drones and we greatly appreciate all the tribal fisherman who go out and look for officer Cortez," said Sutter.

Civilians have also helped scour beaches as well, he said.

"We've had many neighborhood associations and private individuals walking the beaches looking for any evidence of Officer Cortez or of the boat debris," said Sutter.

Gobin said the tribe plans to continue searching.

"We're still searching today and will continue active searching until we deem we can't do it any longer, but right now we're committed to keep going," he said.

Sutter and Gobin thanked the many local organizations and individuals who have helped with the search.

"The government organizations, the different municipalities, state and federal agencies, other tribal entities, have been tremendous and it has been non-stop," said Gobin.

 

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