Sgt. John Taylor, a former search and rescue chief in Snohomish County, Wash., died on Nov. 28 from complications of a heart attack and Parkinson’s disease. He was 60.
His first rescue mission occurred when he was 17 years old. Taylor was working at a lodge just east of Granite Falls when local deputies asked for his assistance in helping a woman who’d been injured on a steep hillside.
He served in the Army and the National Guard for 41 years, including two in Vietnam. When he returned to the states in 1968, Taylor joined the sheriff’s office. He spent the next quarter century building the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue into an efficient team of volunteers willing to work in life-threatening situations.
An expert in operating rescue boats, scuba diving, parachuting and rappelling from cliffs and helicopters, Taylor personally rescued hundreds of lost and injured people in the wild. Even after he retired in 1997, he helped the sheriff’s office in coordinating search and rescue missions.
He received a citation from President Richard M. Nixon for rescuing a boy stuck on a rock in the middle of a rain-swollen river, the Washington State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Hal Foss Award, the most prestigious honor given by the National Association for Search and Rescue. Two years ago, the search and rescue operations base was renamed “Taylor’s Landing.”