Drowning takes life of former Auburn Police officer, Colfax grad

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A police motorcade Friday in the southwestern Washington State community of Battle Ground will honor former Auburn Police officer Michael Molzahn, who drowned Sunday in the Columbia River. Molzahn, 41, grew up in Weimar and worked for Auburn Police Department in the early 1990s shortly after serving a tour of duty in the Persian Gulf War. Molzahn had been a police officer in Battle Ground for 11 years, including the past four as a motorcycle officer. “He loved being a policeman,” Molzahn’s father, Dick, said Thursday. Dick Molzahn said that he has learned his son was out on a boat Sunday evening with friends on the Columbia River, near Vancouver, Wash. It was an exceptionally hot day and Mike decided to jump in but he drowned in the cold, strong current, his father said. Friends in the boat weren’t able to reach him and he was eventually taken out of the water by another boat and taken to shore, where he was unable to be revived, The Associated Press reported. In Auburn, Mike Molzahn had initially worked as a reserve after attending police academy at Butte College in Chico. He left the Auburn Police in 1995 when his family relocated to Vancouver, Wash. He moved to Battle Ground, a city of 16,000, in 1997. Dick Molzahn said Capt. Dan Boone of the Auburn department helped his son out with belts, holsters and a borrowed gun when he went to police academy. By that time, the younger Molzahn had married his high school sweetheart, Kim Buckert. They would have two children, a son Mitchell, 17, and a daughter, Kennedy, 13. Being a motor officer and driving a Harley-Davidson came naturally to the 6 foot 2 inch Colfax High graduate. “Mike was always fascinated with motorcycles,” Dick Molzahn said. “I told him when he was a child that if he got his grades up, he could get a dirt bike.” That first motorcycle led to a continuing lifelong passion that included buying his own Harley to match the one he had at work, his father said. Four years ago, the Battle Ground department established its own motorcycle unit and Molzahn became one of its first officers. Born in Santa Ana, Mike Molzahn moved with his family to Weimar when he was 8. He attended local schools and graduated from Colfax High School in 1988. Tall and athletic, he could dunk the basketball as a sophomore in high school. As well as playing for the high school basketball team under coach Ron Pucci, he participated in track. After graduation, Molzahn joined the National Guard and that led to activation for a six-month tour of duty in the Persian Gulf. A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at Brush Prairie Baptist Church at 11 a.m. in Battle Ground. Detective Sgt. Dale Hutchins will be representing Auburn Police at the service and remembered Molzahn on Thursday as a man of integrity and honesty. Hutchins served with Molzahn in the early 1990s. “He was a dedicated father,” Hutchins said. “He loved his family and put it above everything else.”