OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Searches for two men missing on the Olympic Peninsula for more than a week are scaling back, officials said Sunday.
Zach Krull, 20, who had moved to Olympia in recent weeks to start his freshman year at The Evergreen State College, was scheduled to return from a camping trip near Staircase Campground last week.
Friday night, search and rescue found a week-old set of tracks that went through an area hit by an avalanche, said Lt. Jason Dracobly of the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.
“There’s tracks that lead to an avalanche, but we don’t know if it’s him or not,” he said.
Krull, from Livingston, N.J., transferred to Evergreen for the spring term because of his love of the outdoors and dreams of becoming a park ranger, his father, Stewart Krull, said Sunday. He’s also a skilled photographer, a music producer and Mets fan, he said.
“He had visited and went camping in the northern Cascades and fell in love with Washington,” his father said. “He is very much a person in tune with the wilderness and is never happier than when he’s in the outdoors.”
Zach and Stewart had recently snowshoed at Crater Lake in Oregon, which Stewart said was the most majestic sight they had ever seen.
“I think his enthusiasm just got the better of him and he didn’t know how treacherous Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest can be,” he said.
Over the weekend more than 70 people searched the area, including air support from Whidbey Island and King County, Dracobly said.
During every step of the search the Krull family felt officials were doing everything they could to find Zach, Stewart said.
“We cannot express how touched we are by the tremendous support we’ve received from everyone at the Mason County Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “Their efforts, along with those of Olympic Mountain Rescue and the Mason, Thurston and Pierce County Search and Rescue units have been nothing short of extraordinary.
“In this trying time, we cannot thank the entire search and rescue community enough for its support.”
Dracobly said no one knew specifically what Krull’s plan was for what was supposed to be a weekend camping trip.
Krull was well equipped for the trip, he said. Krull’s parents were able to detail the equipment he had with him for the trek.
“I just wish he had an avalanche beacon,” Dracobly said. “That would help us a great deal.”
He said that Mason County deputies who specialize in swift water rescue will search the headwaters in the area Tuesday.
There’s no indication Krull would be there, but it’s an area that hasn’t been searched yet.
Sol Duc search
The search for missing 22-year-old Jacob Gray, of Bellevue, is also scaling back, said Clallam County Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King.
Gray went missing April 5 when he left a relative’s Port Townsend home on a bicycle towing a trailer full of camping gear.
His bike and camping gear were found the next day about 6.5 miles up Sol Duc Hot Springs Road in Olympic National Park, but there was no trace of Gray.
About 30 people searched for Gray over the weekend in teams led by Clallam County Search and Rescue, King said.
They used three cadaver and scent dogs to search the area, but found no evidence of Gray, he said.
“We eliminated all the areas to the west of where his bike was found in the National Forest area that were a priority to us,” he said. “There was no evidence discovered that indicated that he had been there.”
Clallam County Search and Rescue is no longer leading an active land search of the area, he said.
A group of experienced kayakers were scheduled to search the Sol Duc River on Sunday.
“If there’s something that’s discovered — that gives us tangible evidence he was at another location — we would evaluate,” he said. “What we’re lacking is any tangible evidence that he was in any other location.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].