Retired Everett officer among Oso slide victims

Retired Everett officer among Oso slide victims
Flowers and a cross stand next to Highway 530, Thursday, April 3, 2014, in Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
OSO, Wash. (AP) - For several days, he was known merely as John Doe, the unidentified Oso landslide victim with gold crowns on his teeth.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner now can give him his name: Michael W. Pearson.

To those who knew Pearson as an Everett patrol officer in the 1970s and 1980s, he was a dependable cop.

"What a tragedy," said Al Shelstad, who was police chief when Pearson retired. "He was what we call steady. He came to work every day and did his job. I don't think he ever took a sick day. He came to work every day and did it right."

Pearson is one of 36 people known to have died in the massive mudslide that wiped out a neighborhood outside of Oso on March 22. Like the others, Pearson died of blunt-force injuries, according to the medical examiner.

Searchers earlier found a Everett Police Department jacket in the rubble.

Pearson, 74, served in the U.S. Marines before joining the Everett Police Department in 1972. He retired in November 1987.

The officer with the dark slicked-back hair was known for being plain-spoken.

"He was kind of the Harry Truman type," said retired Everett police Capt. Len Amundson. "He didn't sugarcoat much. He would tell you what he thought. ... He had his set of standards and he adhered to them."

Pearson also had a knack for calling his colleagues by their formal names. Len Amundson said Pearson was the only person who ever seemed to call him Leonard.

Amundson, who served 26 years with the department, recalled when Pearson was a police cadet in 1971. Later, when Amundson was the department's range master, Pearson was a range officer known for his marksmanship.

"He was a good backup officer if there was any physical activity going on," Amundson said. "There was no fear in him."

Bill Deckard, who is now captain of the Everett Police Department's investigations unit, remembers Pearson as his field training officer in January 1978. Pearson was a good teacher of the procedures he would need to learn.

"He was just steady and worked hard," Deckard said.

His former colleagues were not surprised that Pearson settled down in the rural neighborhood off Steelhead Drive. Pearson was an outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish. He always seemed to have a dog with him when he was off duty and in his personal car.

"He liked the quiet life," Deckard said.