Washington State Trooper, 51, Killed by 'Very Large' Avalanche While Snow Biking
Steve Houle, a veteran of the Washington State Patrol, was found dead after being trapped by the avalanche on Monday afternoon
A Washington state trooper was killed in an avalanche on Monday while snow biking, according to authorities.
Steve Houle, a veteran of the Washington State Patrol, was found dead after being trapped by the avalanche on Monday afternoon, the WSP wrote on Facebook.
A husband and father, Houle served for more than 28 years in the Commercial Vehicle Division of the WSP, the department said.
"Steve was a great person and an excellent employee, loved and respected by us all," WSP Chief John Batiste said in a statement. "We hold his memory and his family close to our hearts in this painfully sad time."
On Monday, the Northwest Avalanche Center reported that two snow bikers had been buried by a "very large avalanche" in the French Cabin Creek area north of Cle Elum around 12 p.m.
One of the snow bikers was able to dig himself out and seek help, according to the center.
The Kittitas County Sheriff said in a press release that Houle, 51, was located around 7 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) reported that the United States has marked its deadliest week of avalanches in more than a century after more than a dozen people died in the snow disasters.
Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, a total of 15 people were killed due to avalanches in Washington, Utah, Colorado, New Hampshire, Montana, California and Alaska, according to the CAIC.
The fatalities are now the nation's second-most avalanche-related deaths in a seven-day period, the CAIC stated on their Instagram.
The record falls behind the one set in 1910, when 96 people died in Washington at the Wellington townsite on the west side of Stevens Pass, according to CAIC's Instagram post.