Trooper from Whatcom County dies on duty near Yakima

A state trooper from Whatcom County died from an apparent medical emergency Thursday, Aug. 6, in Yakima County.

Brent L. Hanger, 47, was following up on a tip about a marijuana grow-op when he started having chest pain and feeling shortness of breath, according to the Washington State Patrol. He died Thursday morning.

His body was airlifted from the Chinook Pass area to an airstrip, then brought to Yakima in a procession of troopers and deputies, according to the Yakima Herald.

An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday morning.

Hanger, a former mechanic, was hired by the state patrol in July 1998. He spent his entire career based in Whatcom County, and he also worked in Skagit, Island and Snohomish counties. He received an award of merit for helping to save the life on a suicidal person in 2000.

He’s survived by his wife and six children.

Hanger, a detective, had been doing undercover anti-drug work in recent years. Yet even with his difficult schedule he made time for his family, said Trooper Mark Francis.

“In our line of work we always say family first, and sometimes that’s easier said than done,” Francis said.

Hanger helped to train Francis when he started his career. He was excellent coach, Francis said.

“He was a hilarious guy, with a very dry sense of humor,” Francis said. “He taught me everything about being a trooper.”

The state patrol released a statement on the death Thursday afternoon.

“He was loved,” the statement concludes, “and will be missed tremendously by all that knew him.”

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or Read the Dispatcher blog at and follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.