Hiker ‘probably’ died of natural causes

PORT ANGELES — Jacob Randall Gray, a 22-year-old Port Townsend bicyclist and hiker whose remains were found in Olympic National Park in early August, probably died of natural causes, a forensic anthropologist has determined more than 16 months after he went missing.

Clallam County Assistant Coroner Tellina Sandaine said Wednesday that anthropologist Katherine Taylor of the King County Medical Examiner’s Office said this week that the manner and cause of death could not be determined.

“From what she had, there was nothing malicious,” Sandaine said.

The Medical Examiner’s Office referred all inquiries about the examination to Clallam County officials.

No autopsy

An autopsy on Gray could not be performed, Sandaine said.

Taylor told Sandaine that Gray’s death “was most likely from a natural cause,” Sandaine said.

“She was not able to say it was definitely hypothermia.”

Sandaine said Clallam County officials will receive a written report from the Medical Examiner’s Office by mid-September.

Olympic National Park Service spokeswoman Penny Wagner said Thursday that Gray’s death remains under investigation.

“It’s still an open investigation until we receive a forensic pathology report,” she said.

“I don’t have any further details at this time.”

Gray, a Port Townsend resident who grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., was reported missing after leaving Port Townsend on April 5, 2017, on his bicycle pulling a bike trailer, authorities said.

A park field crew found equipment and clothing Aug. 10 near Hoh Lake.

On Aug. 11, marmot biologists found Gray’s remains, which were identified by dental records.

Park spokeswoman Penny Wagner said last week the remains were found a quarter-mile from the Hoh Lake-High Divide trails.

Hoh Lake, about 5,300 feet above sea level, is about 5 miles south of Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.

Search started

A National Park Service ranger April 6, 2017, found Gray’s bicycle, bike trailer and camping gear just off Milepost 6.3 of Sol Duc Hot Springs Road, in brush.

They were within sight of the pavement, and about 40 feet east of the Sol Duc River, according to the National Park Service search-and-rescue report.

There was no trail to the river.

The trailer contained food, clothing, emergency blankets, bike repair items and a first-aid kit, sleeping bag, tent, tarp and pocket survival guides, according to the report.

A water filter and a Camelback backpack, which holds a plastic water container, were missing from the trailer, according to a list provided by Gray’s family, according to the report.

A bow was on the ground, and arrows were sticking in the ground and out of the back of the trailer, a park ranger said.

Family members assisted in the search.

Gray’s father Randy, who told authorities Jacob was an accomplished big-wave surfer, donned a wetsuit and swam the Sol Duc River in search of his son.

Jacob Gray turned 22 a month before he went missing.

A memorial service for Gray is planned for Sunday in Santa Cruz, according to the family’s “Find Jacob Gray — Missing Person” Facebook page.

A paddle-out, in which surfers paddle their board past the ocean breakers and surf back to shore, will precede the service.

Make donations

The family is urging that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to search-and-rescue organizations, including those that helped search for Gray.

Suggested recipients include Clallam County Search and Rescue, Olympic Mountain Rescue of Bremerton and the American Red Cross.

Family members could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Randy Gray told authorities his son was skilled in survival and was “a good kid,” according to the search-and rescue report.

“This is such a public thing, with Jacob missing,” Randy Gray told Peninsula Daily News on Aug. 17, after his son’s remains were identified.

“I want to thank the whole community as a gesture of love from the family.

“We have closure.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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