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KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. – A Washington state trooper has died in an avalanche, authorities said late Monday.

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According to KIRO-TV, Steve Houle, a 28-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol’s Commercial Vehicle Division, was killed when the avalanche occurred Monday afternoon in the French Cabin Creek area of Kittitas County.

The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said Houle and another man were riding snow bikes at the time, KIRO reported. Following the avalanche, the other man was unable to find Houle, deputies said.

Search and rescue crews later discovered Houle dead in the snow, according to KIRO.

In a statement late Monday, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste called Houle “a great person and an excellent employee” who was “loved and respected by us all.”

“We hold his memory and his family close to our hearts in this painfully sad time,” the statement continued.

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