You may, in passing, have seen stories on the news of young people dying suddenly on high school or college campuses and, in other cases, during professional sports games and practices. In some cases, the cause is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
SCA is the sudden loss of all heart activity due to an irregular heart rhythm, and without immediate treatment, it can lead to death. The stories, while startling, never really seemed like something that would affect our lives in the Valley.
Until one day in November, those stories hit very close to home.
After attending a WSU football game with friends in Pullman on November 5th, 2023, longtime North Bend local Jacob (Jake) Harrison Bailey passed away unexpectedly due to an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 24. Jake was the beloved son of Mike, Interim Chief of the Snoqualmie Fire Department, and Stephanie Bailey.
Born on June 21, 1999, in Seattle, Jake was raised in North Bend and attended Mount Si High School, graduating in 2017, where he enjoyed playing football and soccer, running for track, and spending time with his friends.
Says MSHS Coach Kinnune, “Jake was a treasured player and teammate for us at Mount Si HS. He loved the game of football and gave it everything he had every day. One of my favorite memories ever was when he made his first varsity reception on our last game of his senior season. It was priceless. His teammates and coaches cheered like we had just won a championship. Wildcat Nation Mourns this loss. We will forever remember what he stood for: selflessness, team over everything else, and service. RIP, our brother.”
Pursuing his interest in forensic science, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Washington State University in 2021, with minors in criminal justice and biochemistry. Jake was a dedicated Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity member at WSU, forming friendships with his adopted Greek family and positively impacting those around him. Jake loved Pullman and WSU and cherished his time there and the friendships he made. Pullman was clearly his happy place.
After moving to Spokane in September of 2022, Jake started work in the lab of ALK Source Materials, a pharmaceutical company in Post Falls, Idaho. While working for ALK, he enjoyed spending time with his coworkers in and outside of work. The Baileys are proud of Jakes’s work accomplishments, his life with his work family and are thankful they were part of his life.
Friend Ben Sivanish, wanting to give back to a friend he calls “amazing,” started a GoFundMe campaign to pay off Jake’s recently purchased truck so that his sisters can one day drive it. To date, the campaign has collected nearly double Ben’s original goal.
When not working, Jake enjoyed cheering for his favorite teams. Whether it was for the Seahawks, Mariners, Kraken, or anything WSU, Jake was always quick to send a text celebrating a win, or his frustrations if it wasn’t going as well.
Family and the outdoors were important to Jake, and his family cherishes the memories of all the family camping trips, vacations, and boating adventures. Jake enjoyed spending time with his large extended family as he reveled in being the oldest cousin of his generation and the ringleader of many adventures.
Jake also loved spending time with his three sisters. They meant the world to him, and he was always quick to offer advice, take them on a silly adventure, or just chat or text on the phone. Besides his family, Jake’s friends played a huge part in his life. Whether it was trivia nights, video game meetups with friends separated by distance, Pullman adventures, long, serious heart-to-hearts, or just hanging out, it was clear that his friends meant the world to him, and he was there for them no matter what.
His family thanks his friends who were with him, as well as the Pullman Police and Fire Department, for the extraordinary efforts they took to save his life. They are eternally grateful for those who cared for Jake that evening.
Jake is deeply missed by his parents Mike and Stephanie, sisters Sarah, Claire, and Madelyn, as well as his grandparents Ron and Kathy Bailey of Kingston and Andrea and Vern Larson of Westlake Village, California, Aunt Lynnsey of Walla Walla, Uncle David (Amanda, Caden, and Ali) of Poulsbo, Aunt Karena (Jeff, Jack, and Josephine) of Lapeer, Michigan, along with numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
The Baileys would like to thank everyone for the support they have shown them as they continue to mourn Jake’s sudden passing and resume their lives, missing an irreplaceable piece of their family. He will be remembered for his infectious smile and love for his family and friends.
It’s estimated that Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) affects between 6,000 and 8,000 young people each year, and only about one in 10 survive, according to the American Heart Association. It’s the leading cause of death on school campuses.
The Nick of Time Foundation was created in memory of Nick Varrenti, a multi-sport athlete who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and died at age 16. Nick of Time programs work together to help protect our young people and communities by providing heart health awareness for young people, early detection of undiagnosed heart abnormalities, and emergency action planning for schools and communities that includes CPR/AED education.
According to Nick of Time’s executive director, Darla Varrenti, children get well-child or sports physicals where a doctor only listens to their heart with a stethoscope, which isn’t enough. This alone won’t pick up the electrical and structural abnormalities that can cause SCA in young people. Most often, the first symptom is the SCA itself. She says parents must know we aren’t doing enough to ensure our kid’s hearts are safe. You need to look deeper to ensure there aren’t any underlying problems that a simple EKG could pick up.
“Many adults don’t recognize cardiac arrest when a kid collapses,” Varrenti says. “They stand by and watch when what they should be doing is starting CPR, having someone call 911, and finding an AED.”
The Nick of Time Foundation EKG youth heart screening program is community-based and offered in partnership with local high schools. It is available to students ages 12-24 years, no matter where they attend school. The foundation has screened over 28,000 young hearts and found 600 that needed follow-up. In addition to cardiac screenings, the foundation educates all teens and their families about CPR and bystander use of automated external defibrillators, commonly known as AEDs. Nick of Time Foundation, with community partners, is working hard to get schools and sports teams to have AEDs easily accessible in buildings and on the sports fields during all practices and games.
Dad Mike says, “Letting people know about Jake and informing them about how to protect their families is amazing. Causing me to tear up now, but in a good way. It feels like it could make something good out of this.”
Jake’s life will be celebrated on December 9th at the Church on the Ridge in Snoqualmie at 2:00 pm. The service will also be available online at www.churchontheridge.org/funeral for those unable to attend in person. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made to the Nick of Time Foundation or the American Heart Association.