Chris Vowels died Wednesday, one day after he returned to the Tri-Cities following a six-month stay in Seattle while battling a rare disease.
The Richland business owner and retired police sergeant died at 6:05 p.m. at The Hospice House in Kennewick. He was surrounded by family.
Vowels, 64, was diagnosed in October 2015 with severe aplastic anemia. His May 22 bone marrow transplant was successful, but nearly two months later he developed a complication in which the donor’s immune cells mistakenly attack the patient’s normal cells.
Vowels left UW Medical Center on Tuesday morning in a private ambulance, and was driven back to the Tri-Cities so he could see extended family and friends before dying. Law enforcement gave a special escort to Vowels and his family as they arrived in the Tri-Cities.
In March, as he prepared for his transplant, Vowels told the Herald that God has a plan and he was at peace with dying because he knows where he is going.
“I don’t want it to be over, but if it is, He’s got me and I’m good with that,” Vowels said.
His survivors include: wife Dorothy; daughters Kendra Kinlock, Leslie Brock and Jessica Vowels; and four grandchildren.
Vowels and his wife are the owners of Columbia Kayak Adventures. He retired from the Richland Police Department in 2007 after 25 years on the force.
Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner wrote on the department’s Facebook page that Vowels was one of the best cops Richland has known.
“He had a true servant heart and will be dearly missed by all who knew him …,” Skinner said. “RPD will continue to honor Chris’ memory in all that we say and do.”
Family members documented Vowels’ journey on a Facebook group page, and now are asking people who knew him to share stories and help “write the book that will be his legacy.”