Authorities Find Deputy Fire Chief Dead After He Went Missing In Forest For 12 Days

(Photo by Kittitas County Sheriff's Department)

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Seattle Deputy Fire Chief Jay Schreckengost, 56, was found deceased Sunday after a 12-day search-and-rescue mission in the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington, according to a local sheriff’s department.

Schreckengost’s body was found dead in the forest about a half-mile from where his pickup truck, according to the Kittitas Sheriff’s Department. There was no preliminary evidence of suspicious activity or foul play, but the Kittitas County Coroner will be completing an investigation to confirm the Chief’s cause of death, authorities said. (RELATED: Dog Leads Hiker To Remains Of Missing Person)

Schreckengost was last heard from on Nov. 2, when he texted his family that he would be elk hunting in the Cliffdell area, the Kittitas Sheriff’s Department shared in a press release on Nov. 4. However, his family never received notice that he had returned to his rented cabin that evening, police said. Kittitas County Sheriff’s inspector Chris Whitsett later said that the Chief was planning on going hunting with his son the day after he went missing.

Over the last 12 days, hundreds of volunteers assisted in the search-and-rescue for the Deputy Fire Chief, dozens of whom stayed over multiple days to help Kittitas County. In addition to Schreckengost’s family, various agencies, K9 units, drones teams, mountain rescue and ground teams, and over 100 personnel from the Seattle Fire Department helped with the search, The Seattle Times reported.

According to The Seattle Times, Schreckengost was with the Seattle Fire Department for 36 years. He worked his way up the ranks of firefighter, and eventually served as the Deputy Chief in the Operations Division of the Fire Department, the outlet reported.

“Over the past 12 days since Jay was first reported missing, more than 60 different agencies and 160 SFD members responded to the site, determine to find our beloved member,” the Seattle Fire Department wrote in an Instagram post. “They, along with all of the technical teams and search and rescue volunteers, conducted an extensive search that led to today’s discovery. We are grateful, too, for the support of businesses, who provided food and lodging and set up critical radio and cellular networks, and members of the community.”

“While the outcome is not what we would have hoped,” the department continued. “We know that this will bring closure to Jay’s family, friends and colleagues. We will always remember you Jay, you are forever in our hearts.”