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News / Northwest

WA trooper killed in crash remembered as passionate, ‘honorable man’

By Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times
Published: March 13, 2024, 7:32am

EVERETT — Trooper Chris Gadd was a man of action who loved deeply, was competitive to a fault and was passionate about arresting drunken drivers to keep the roads safe.

Hundreds of police officers from across the country, along with a contingent from Canada, joined Gadd’s family, friends and members of the public Tuesday in remembering the goofy, gregarious 27-year-old who was killed in the line of duty March 2.

Motorcycles from police departments from Spokane Valley to Auburn were parked outside Angel of the Winds Arena, while inside a sea of uniforms in shades of blue, green and brown — and at least one red uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — amassed for a somber service steeped in military tradition.

An honor guard stood at attention and saluted as Gadd’s family was escorted to the front of the arena, where his casket was draped in an American flag. The Seattle Police Pipes & Drums, dressed in kilts and tartans, played “Going Home,” and a color guard bearing flags marched to the stage.

Seven troopers who knew Gadd best huddled in a group hug before one of them attached a streamer bearing Gadd’s name to the State Patrol flag, where it joined streamers with the names of 32 other troopers killed in the line of duty. Gadd, who was a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician before joining the Patrol 2 1/2 years ago, was the 33rd trooper killed in the agency’s 103-year history.

Pastor Matt Krachunis, who has known Gadd’s family for 20 years, said Gadd was proud to be a trooper, loved his job and did it well. The pastor remembered him as a “pudgy, round-faced kid” growing up in Covington who would show up on his bike with an airsoft rifle and his hair styled into a mohawk. Gadd and Krachunis’ son would raid the pantry to steal the pastor’s “premium snacks” — namely macadamia nuts and the good chocolate, he said.

“Chris became a man when none of us were watching,” Krachunis said. “Chris took the world by the reins and just did it. … He made his decisions based on what he thought was important” and forged his own path.

Gadd found his best friend in his wife Cammryn, and his favorite person was his young daughter, Kaelyn, who he’d hoped to rebuild a car with someday, Krachunis said. He was incredibly proud of his younger sister, Jackie, who became a Texas State trooper, and was a devoted son to his parents, Gillian and David, the latter a retired state trooper.

“Chris and every single one of you stand as society’s first and last line of defense,” Krachunis said to the crowd of law enforcement officers. “Please, remember who Chris was: an honorable man, a father, a husband, a son and a friend.”

During his time at the Patrol’s training academy, Gadd proved to be a hardworking cadet who was dedicated to achieving professional excellence, said Cpl. Alexis Robinson, one of his instructors. He became a leader to his classmates and scored at the top of his class academically, she said.

Gadd had an amazing sense of humor and was the only student Robinson ever recalls saying “hullabaloo” in the course of normal conversation. The word was quickly adopted among his classmates, and anytime someone used it, “it brought us joy,” she recalled.

Gadd, she said, was tenacious, humble, incredibly smart and kind.

Robinson promised Gadd’s daughter would grow up with “a horde of troopers” around her.

“Every school dance she wants an escort to, we’ll make sure she gets home by curfew,” Robinson said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Robinson expressed anger and sadness over the senselessness of Gadd’s death, which investigators have said was caused by an intoxicated driver who struck the back of Gadd’s patrol vehicle while the trooper was parked on the shoulder of Interstate 5 near Marysville.

“I would trade places with him in a second if I had the chance because he was there doing his job to keep others safe,” she said. “It’s not fair and it’s not right.”

State Patrol Chief John Batiste called Gadd’s death a devastating loss and said he served with excellency and humility.

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“Chris Gadd was simply the best of us. He showed us in his training, he showed us in his service and professionalism,” Batiste said. On calls, Gadd was “a calm in their storm on their worst days,” he said.

Sgt. Anthony Califano, who began supervising Gadd at the beginning of the year, recalled the time Gadd’s hat blew off as he was conducting a traffic stop on I-5 and was hopelessly mangled by oncoming traffic. Video footage of the incident “was much funnier than the story Chris told,” he said.

Another time, on his way into work, Gadd passed another trooper parked on the shoulder of the freeway — and blew his air horn as he drove by, Califano recalled. Gadd later learned the other trooper had broken down and needed a lift and quipped, “Guess I’m never going to live that down,” Califano said.

He described Gadd as “a passionate young trooper who wanted to make a difference.”

“Chris left a lasting impression on everyone he met in his career,” Califano said.