LAKE STEVENS — James Alexander Hopkins always was looking for a way to help others.
He was a dedicated firefighter and EMT with the Tulalip Bay Fire Department. Friends say he could be counted on to lend a hand to loved ones or strangers in need. He was involved with youth ministry at his church, Bethany Christian Assembly. He had plans to go on a mission trip to Swaziland, Africa, in August.
Hopkins, 22, was pulled under water while swimming Sunday afternoon near the base of Palouse Falls in Eastern Washington. Authorities believe he drowned. Dive teams were unable to recover his body due to the dangerous currents below the falls.
Hopkins, who lived in Lake Stevens, loved the outdoors and was known to go hiking and camping in any weather, including overnight trips in the snow. He came from a tight-knit family, parents and an older sister. An online fundraiser to cover funeral expenses and help support the Hopkins family was started by Maxx Powell, a lifelong family friend, fellow firefighter and mentor to Hopkins. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/22de453u.
“Alex was definitely somebody to serve his community and to serve the people around him. It didn’t matter who it was,” Powell said. “I’m confident he would have been a career firefighter in no time. Just an awesome guy.”
Hopkins graduated from Snohomish High School and completed the fire academy at Everett Community College. He was studying at Northwest University in Kirkland and hoped to become a pastor as well as a firefighter.
“He was just such as genuine guy,” Tulalip Bay Fire Chief Teri Dodge said. “He wasn’t really loud and big. He was a humble, quiet guy who wanted to serve others. In every aspect of his life, he wanted to serve others.”
A few weeks ago, Hopkins came to a baby shower for Powell and his wife. Hopkins immediately went over to the grill and started cooking for everybody. Powell didn’t have to ask.
When he wasn’t helping at church, finishing schoolwork or working and training as a firefighter, Hopkins was outside on some kind of adventure, Powell said. He was an experienced hiker and would lead groups of friends to beautiful places around the state. Palouse Falls was one of those beautiful places. His girlfriend and several other friends were there when he was pulled under Sunday.
Friends and family are reeling. At the Tulalip Bay Fire Department, the firefighters and EMTs live together for days at a time, becoming a family of hard-working, high-energy brothers and sisters, Dodge said. It’s hard for them to believe Hopkins is gone. Their hearts are broken, she said.
A funeral service is planned at 2 p.m. Monday at Bethany Christian Assembly in Everett. Powell hopes to give Hopkins a firefighter’s funeral, with as many local firefighters in attendance and in uniform as possible.
Hopkins was the kind of guy who would give anyone a hug if he thought they needed one, Powell said. It’s time for the community to put their arms around his family.
The GoFundMe fundraiser brought in $7,000 within 24 hours. Donations still are being accepted online. They also can be brought to the service Monday.
Friends want Hopkins to be remembered for all the ways he contributed to his community, all the things he did without expecting thanks or accolades.
“In his interview — and I’ll never forget — he said he wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself,” Dodge said. “He just wanted to help people.
“He was such a good guy. And so young. Way too young.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.