Avalanche kills off-duty state patrolman

Tamara Sevao, News Director/Staff Reporter

Steve Houle, a Washington State trooper, was killed in an avalanche on Monday, February 8th. Houle was snowmobiling recreationally in Cle Elum near the French Cabin Creek area when the snow crumbled underneath him and his friend Oscar. 

Oscar dug himself out and tried his best to look for Houle. After a while, he decided it would be more effective to call for help. 

A search and rescue team rushed to the scene when they received the call around 1 a.m. A Kittitas County Sheriff’s canine located Houle, deceased, around 7 p.m. 

“When he was recovered and brought down the hill,” Inspector Chris Whitsett said. “A procession of vehicles formed to follow the vehicle that was transporting him down to Ellensburg, and it was at least 75 cars.”

Officials notified surrounding law enforcement communities to share the news, and a press release was sent out. 

“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,” Sheriff Clay Myers said. “This is a tragic accident and will be felt hard in our close-knit law enforcement community.”

25 people have already died due to avalanches this winter season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. 

The CAIC Director, Ethan Greene, stated that there are more avalanches due to a mixture of weather and an increase in winter recreational activities. 

The best way to stay prepared is to check the forecast, carry proper gear depending on the sport and receive adequate avalanche training. 

Training courses and more avalanche information are available on the CAIC website.