Remains found in Olympic National Park identified as missing hiker

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Human remains discovered in a remote area of Olympic National Park over the weekend have been confirmed to be those of Jacob Gray.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office used dental records to confirm his identity Wednesday and the initial thought is that Gray, who was 22 when he died, did not die of trauma, said Clallam County Deputy Coroner Christi Wojnowski.

Wojnowski said the doctor will further examine Gray’s remains for the next couple days to confirm that Gray’s death was not the result of a traumatic event.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released an official cause or manner of death.

Randy Gray, Jacob’s father, said investigators told him they believe his son died of hypothermia.

Gray, originally from Santa Cruz, Calif., left Port Townsend alone on his bicycle April 5, 2017, towing a trailer full of camping gear.

The bike, trailer and most of his gear were found about 6.5 miles up Sol Duc Hot Springs Road the following day and were reported to Olympic National Park rangers.

The Gray family posted on the Find Jacob Gray Facebook page Monday that Gray’s remains were found near Hoh Lake.

Laura and Randy Gray, Jacob’s parents, were together with family Wednesday when the identification was confirmed.

“We’re together and we’re taking care of what needs to be taken care of,” Laura said. “We’re crying and doing what we have to do.”

Late Friday afternoon a field crew of park employees and volunteers found abandoned outdoor recreation equipment and clothing in an area near Hoh Lake.

The clothing and equipment matched the description of items belonging to Gray.

Early Saturday morning, a team of park law enforcement rangers were sent to conduct a detailed search of the area. During their search, the team found additional clothing and human skeletal remains.

A full report is still pending from the park, which said it remains an open investigation and no further information is available.

Randy said Jacob’s clothes were found scattered along a ridge line near Hoh Lake, which is about 5,300 feet above sea level.

Hoh Lake is about 10 miles from the Sol Duc trailhead. The trail climbs through old growth forests and alpine slopes before arriving at the lake.

When people suffer from hypothermia they are known to begin shedding their clothes because they feel warm.

Randy and Laura said their family is thankful to the community on the Olympic Peninsula who supported them throughout the past year.

Laura said she is thankful for the kindness and support she has seen from people who have followed the search efforts.

“This is such a public thing, with Jacob missing,” Randy said.

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

“We have closure,” Randy said.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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