Tulalip Tribal Fish and Wildlife officer Charlie Cortez.


Officer Charlie Cortez has been missing since Nov. 17 after his Tulalip Tribal Fish and Wildlife boat capsized

The search continues for Tulalip Tribal Fish and Wildlife officer Charlie Cortez, presumed dead after his boat capsized near the Tulalip Bay on Nov. 17.

As of press time on Nov. 23, county and tribal crews were still working to look for Cortez.

On Nov. 17 Officer Cortez and Tulalip Tribal Wildlife Boat Captain Shawn Edge were conducting a patrol and investigating potential poaching, according to Niki Cleary, Tulalip Tribal Police Public Information Officer.

During their return trip to Tulalip Bay the boat had to battle with a changing tide, a river surge and dangerously high winds.

The vessel capsized at 8:47 p.m. and both officers were thrown into the water at that time.

At 11:47 p.m. Edge was found near Hat Island Marina, having survived for about three hours in 50-degree water.

The boat itself was found between Hat Island and Jetty Island.

Multiple agencies responded with a coordinated search mission, including Tulalip Tribal Police, Tulalip Bay Fire and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

The search area covered Edmonds to Deception Pass, as Officer Cortez could have been swept a long distance due to winds if he was wearing a personal flotation device.

“Later Wednesday [Nov. 18], the Incident Command received new information and agreed on more focused search areas, utilizing drift, tide, current, and wind to determine where Officer Cortez would most likely be found,” according to Cleary.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search on Wednesday, but local agencies continued to search.

On Thursday teams continued with assistance with sonar provided by Pierce County, the Seattle Police Department and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department.

“NOAA began mapping the shelf near Jetty Island, and the U.S. Navy brought in sea bots out of Langley and Bangor, which map up to 500’ in-depth,” said Cleary.

Friday, the search was focused on the area where the vessel is believed to have capsized between Everett and Tulalip.

“NOAA again scanned the area with their cutting-edge technology while Tulalip Tribal Police and Snohomish County Sheriff’s office co-coordinated grid searches,” said Cleary.

An aircraft was launched Friday during the lowest tides to search some of the estuary and small island areas near Tulalip Bay.

Search crews are rotating to manage fatigue and resources, said Cleary.

“We will continue to search. Please keep the family and community in your thoughts and prayers while we work to bring our fallen officer home,” she said.


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