TULALIP — Blue cups spell out “Cortez” in the holes of a chainlink fence. A light breeze billowed two “thin blue line” flags Thursday at the makeshift memorial for Tulalip Tribal Police officer Charlie Cortez.
Cortez is presumed to have drowned after a wave capsized his vessel on Nov. 17 near Jetty Island. He would be the first officer from the department to die in the line of duty.
The boat’s captain, fisheries officer Shawn Edge, was rescued after three hours in the water by Tulalip fishermen late on Nov. 17, but the search for Cortez continues.
Tulalip News reported that Fish and Wildlife vessels from the Tulalip and Swinomish tribes, along with 15 volunteer fishing vessels, looked for Cortez on Wednesday. The effort included advanced sonar scanning with technology provided by Fenn Enterprises.
Private vessels assisting in the search are asked to call or text the incident command at 360-926-5059.
Bouquets of flowers have accumulated at the Tulalip marina tribute to the fallen officer, but the marina memorial, at 7411 Tulalip Bay Drive, was quiet Thursday.
Tulalip Tribes officials advised against gathering during the holiday weekend as COVID-19 cases continued to rise in Snohomish County and the tribal community. An update Monday reported 40 active coronavirus cases among the tribes, with about a third of the cases connected to a cluster outbreak.
Faced with tragedy and difficult choices, Ashlynn Danielson, the tribe’s emergency preparedness manager, asked people to embrace the unique year and keep the community safe.
“When we have so little control over our lives and nothing looks familiar, it’s very human to search for comforting rituals and our loved ones’ support,” Danielson said. “To be frank, sharing a meal over the Thanksgiving holiday may mean sharing COVID.”