OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST — Jeremiah Adams likely died from a 300-foot fall into a ravine, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday, a day after hikers found the remains of the 24-year-old Navy sailor near the Gray Wolf Trail near Sequim.
The group of three hikers were about six miles down the trail at an area of a bridge washout when they discovered what appeared to human remains about 300 feet down an embankment. They notified the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office at about 1:04 p.m. Saturday.
Adams likely died from a “pretty severe” fall down the ravine, said Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King.
“He would not have been able to survive the fall that occurred,” he said, adding Adams suffered obvious broken bones. “We believe he died at the time of the fall.”
King said it appears Adams left the main trail and attempted to traverse a primitive trail. He said search and rescue crews had searched the area previously, but because of the thickness of the brush and how far he apparently fell, they were unable to spot him.
Volunteer members of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team, led by Deputy Mike Leiter, hiked in to investigate. Once on scene the search team found the remains, which they believe to be Adams, based on physical characteristics and clothing description.
The recovery lasted well into the night, King said. The remains will be held for autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death.
Foul play is not suspected.
Adams, who hails from the Chicago area, served as a nuclear electrician’s mate second class on the Bremerton-based USS Nimitz.
He has been described as an experienced hiker who often trekked into the Olympic Mountains.
Adams was last seen when he left for a hike May 4. He failed to rendezvous with friends for another hike May 5.
Fellow sailors found the 2013 Ford Fiesta that Adams was driving at the Lower Gray Wolf trailhead last Monday night.
His remains were found Saturday as officials scaled back their search efforts after a four-day sweep of the Buckhorn Wilderness south of Sequim.
Olympic Mountain Rescue teams were conducting searches on steep terrain in remote corners of the Buckhorn Wilderness on Saturday.
Ground crews of up to 100 personnel had spent the previous four days looking for Adams in the Gray Wolf River Valley, where Adams’ car was found last Monday night, and neighboring basins.
Swift water rescue teams from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and Clallam County Fire District No. 3 looked up and down the fast-flowing Gray Wolf River to no avail last week.
USS Nimitz officials addressed the disappearance on the ship’s Facebook page Thursday.
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with our Sailor and his family during this challenging time,” the post read.
King emphasized the importance of hiking with others and staying on established trails when exploring the Olympic Mountains.
“The Olympics are a majestic and beautiful place to go, but there are a lot of dangers with the type of terrain you hike through,” he said. “Take the greatest precautions possible.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].