OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Search and rescue crews from across Western Washington will search the Sol Duc River on Saturday with hopes of finding Jacob Gray, a hiker who has been missing since April.
Sgt. Lyman Moores, Clallam County Search and Rescue coordinator, said the river is now low enough for the search to continue.
“When we went out and searched back in April, the river was very high,” he said. “We wanted to wait until the river came down.”
Crews are going to thoroughly search the river, including holes, logjams and both banks of the river, “all the way down,” he said.
Gray, 22, was last seen April 5 when he left a relative’s Port Townsend residence on a bicycle towing a trailer full of camping gear, according to his family.
Olympic National Park visitors found Gray’s bike and camping gear April 6 about 6.5 miles up Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. He was nowhere to be found.
Searches for Gray continued in Olympic National Park throughout the week before the park moved into a “limited continuous search” — which means it is not actively searching — on April 14.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office picked up the search and had about 30 people and dogs comb the area the next day to no avail. The county’s search was scaled back by April 16.
Base camp for the search Saturday will be about 2.2 miles up Sol Duc Hot Springs Road, and SAR crews will be briefed at 7 a.m.
Moores said he believes there are enough professionals who have agreed to help that there is no need for volunteers.
“We’ve got a pretty good response right now from professional SAR teams from across the state,” he said. “I’m not going to say ‘no’ to volunteers, but I think at this point, we’ve got a lot of people.”
He said people from Snohomish, Kitsap, Jefferson, Pierce, Mason and Clallam counties; Olympic National Park; the state Department of Corrections; and other agencies have agreed to help with the search, adding that he expects there to be at least 50 people searching.
A swift-water team will search the river, and teams of cadaver dogs will be searching for Gray, Moores said.
Moores has wanted to have the search for months but said it needed to be put off until the river was lower. He decided about two weeks ago that Saturday would be the day.
“We’re going to search the river and the riverbanks for any indication, any clues,” he said.
Moores said Gray’s family plans to help with the search. Gray’s father, Randy Gray, had searched relentlessly for his son for weeks after he disappeared.
Laura Gray, Jacob’s mother, said she and others plan to be in the area today and will help with the search Saturday.
She said she is scared of what might be found during the search.
“There’s hope and fear in finding Jacob,” she said.
But she’s also grateful for the many people who have helped look for her son and those who continue to help.
“There are people that show up, look and care, and they’ve never met me face to face and they’ve certainly never met Jacob,” Laura Gray said.
“It’s almost like he becomes everybody’s child.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.