Seattle deputy fire chief died after falling down hillside, coroner says

Credit: Seattle Fire Department

Deputy Fire Chief Jay Schreckengost died after falling down a steep hillside or cliff, the Kittitas County Coroner says.

Rescue crews recovered Schreckengost's body on Nov. 14.

The Kittitas County Sheriff's Office says Schreckengost was found in the mountains near Cliffdell, about a half-mile from where his pickup was parked, and he had been missing since Nov. 2.

The cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma. The coroner believes Schreckengost fell more than once.

"It’s known that there was snow on the ground when Chief Schreckengost went scouting for Elk on the morning of Tuesday, 11/2—creating slick conditions in that already rugged and dangerous terrain. The location where he was found was near the bottom of a sharp, broken slope about 700 feet in elevation, north-northeast from the end of spur rd 553 off Forest Service Rd 1703 in the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest near Cliffdell. It’s believed the Chief slipped or fell down a part of that slope into terrain where he could neither climb back up nor safely descend. Another fall brought him near the bottom of the slope and caused a fatal spinal fracture."

"We’re saddened to give news of Chief Schreckengost’s passing to his family and fellow firefighters, and we ask the public and press to respect their privacy as they grieve his loss," said Kittitas Sheriff Clay Myers. "We also want to thank everyone who participated in or supported this search. It was a tremendous outpouring of resources and effort that produced a vital result: a family knows what happened to their loved one and he can be brought home to them."

The sheriff's office says 60 agencies and countless volunteers and professionals helped in the search.

"We are incredibly saddened by this news and are all grieving the loss of one of our own," said Kristin Tinsley with the Seattle Fire Department. "Deputy Chief Schreckengost was a husband, father and friend to all, and our hearts are with his family right now who have been at the site every day searching alongside search and rescue, fire and law enforcement agencies."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 'He is our friend, and he is a family member'; Search for missing Seattle firefighter ongoing

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