Authorities say a veteran Washington state soldier died in an avalanche while riding a motorcycle on Monday.
Ambulances recovered the body of 51-year-old Steve Houle around 7 p.m. after he was buried hours ago by an avalanche and another motorcyclist destined around French Cabin Creek, Clayton Myers, Kittitas County sheriff’s press release.
The other person, according to the sheriff, was able to dig himself out and call for help at the nearby French Cabin Sno-Park in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
“On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, I would like to express our deepest condolences to Trooper Houle’s family, friends and the Washington State Patrol,” Myers said in a press release. “It’s a tragic accident and you will feel hard in our close law enforcement community.”
The affiliate king of NBC News reported that Houle was driving a snowmobile with a narrower snowmobile around noon Monday during the avalanche.
In social media, John Batiste, the Washington State Patrol Chief called Houle is “a great man and an excellent employee, loved and respected by all of us.”
“In this painfully sad time, we are squeezing his memory and family to our hearts,” Batiste said.
Team John Bryant told KING that Houle was “someone you can count on.”
“It’s hard to imagine next time it’s not nearby,” Bryant continued.
KING reporter Vanessa Misciagna has posted a video showing an escort of police and an ambulance to Houle’s body.
Houle has been with the Washington State Patrol for 28 years, the agency said.
According to the Northwest Avalanche Center, the area is currently undergoing a “significant” avalanche warning. In the Sunday post, the center says the risk of avalanches is high in Kittitas county.
The Washington state avalanche occurred a few days after another deadly snowfall killed four Utah skiers, NBC News reports.
The North West Avalanche Center reports that more than a dozen people have been killed in avalanches in the United States since the beginning of the month.
“Please be patient, read the forecast and choose terrain according to current conditions,” the Avalanche Center said.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, which conducted the investigation, did not respond immediately to NBC News’ comments.