"It's a tough day. We're all hurting": Procession brings avalanche victims home
ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- First responders from Pierce County arrived in Ellensburg on Tuesday afternoon to bring home the bodies of two men who both dedicated their lives to service -- Zachary Roundtree, an Air Force veteran, and Bonney Lake Police Ofc. James Larsen.
"It's tough. It's a tough day we're all hurting," said Bonney Lake Police Officer Todd Green. "We're all pretty devastated, so we're all out here and we're just going to do our best to bring our friends home."
The men died on a snowmobiling trip with friends when they were hit by an avalanche near Cle Elum.
Roundtree, who is the son of a longtime Bonney Lake Public Works employee, served seven years in the Air Force. He grew up in Buckley and was an avid outdoorsman.
Roundtree's girlfriend, Savannah Raczykowski, said by email, "Zachary was a crazy, outgoing, carefree man. He lived everyday like it was his last, and had no regrets." Raczykowski also said, "He brought out the light in everyone. He loved riding, dancing and being the life of the party."
Larsen worked at the Yelm Police Department, then later served 14 years with the Bonney Lake Police Department. He was partners with Green.
"He put his life on the line for others every day," Green said. "When he showed up to work, he was a community guy. He was working all the time. He was out there for everybody. It's the least we can do to say thank you for all he ever did for us."
Bonney Lake Police officers made the trip to Ellensburg with firefighters from East Pierce Fire & Rescue. As they prepared to bring the bodies home, Ellensburg police blocked traffic and lined the street outside the funeral home with Kittitas County sheriff's deputies.
"We're a family, so whether it happens on-duty or off-duty, there's always that support within law enforcement," said Ellensburg Police Capt. Dan Hansberry.
The procession made its way through Ellensburg where Kittitas Valley firefighters draped a flag over Main Street, and saluted the men. It was their way of saying "Thank you for your service."
"We just got to move forward and this is the start of it," said Green.
A vigil will be held on Thursday night to remember the lives of Roundtree and Larsen. It will begin at 6:15 at the flag pole at Allan Yorke Park in Bonney Lake.
Everyone in the community is invited to attend.