TULALIP, Wash. — It’s been nearly a month since Tulalip Tribal Police Officer, Charlie Cortez, died in the line of duty. On Saturday, his tribe, community and fellow first responders honored the life he lived.
“Charlie grew up in a loving family, and it was just in him. He wanted those same things and as with all of us we’ve grown up there’s things we’ve had to overcome in life and you always want something better for your children and Charlie was no different,” said Tulalip Tribes Vice Chairman, Glen Gobin.
Cortez was a husband, a devoted father of two, an avid outdoorsman and a dedicated Tulalip Police Officer.
“He was proud to be an officer and he did his job very well,” Gobin said.
Cortez translated his love for the outdoors into a career in Fish and Wildlife.
“I think he probably saw a need for control and patrolling of different aspects on the reservation and off the reservation and stepped forward to fill that position,” said Gobin.
On Nov. 17, 2020, Cortez and another officer were out on the water helping a vessel in distress, when a large wave capsized the police department’s boat.
The other officer was rescued but Cortez has still not been found.
“Even at times of grief sometimes you feel so all alone, even though everybody is around you, but the amount of people out there that sent nothing but love and support and condolences for the family has really been outstanding and it’s really heartwarming as a tribal leader to recognize this,” Gobin said.
With cars decorated in holiday lights, and hunting gear, hundreds showed up for a parade honoring the life of Cortez.
“It really is, good healing for the family to have that love and that support that comes and gather from all around that people recognize that pain that they’re going through,” Gobin said.
The Tulalip Tribes are not giving up in the search for Cortez hoping to bring answers to his family.
“We are all struggling, and they are struggling and how do we proceed from here and truly honor Charlie with the service that he needs?” said Gobin, “We’ve not been able to find him yet. But we’re not giving up hope.”