Seattle Fire Deputy Chief found dead 13 days after disappearance

Eastern Washington - Seattle Fire
Image credit: Marisa Schreckengost, Facebook

CLIFFDELL, Wash. — (Updated 11/15/21 – 3:30 a.m.) Sunday evening, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s office confirmed that search crews found Seattle Fire Department Deputy Chief Jay Schreckengost’s body in the mountains near Cliffdell where he had been scouting for elk.

The sheriff’s office did not say how Schreckengost died, although they say there is “no preliminary evidence of suspicious activity or foul play.”  The Kittitas County Coroner will have more answers in the coming days.

Searchers found Schreckengost’s body just half a mile from where they found his truck two weeks ago.

You can find KAPP-KVEW’s previous coverage of the search below.


Weather conditions haven’t helped in the search for the missing Seattle Fire Deputy Chief, Jay Schreckengost, but a new photo showing him the night before he disappeared in Kittitas County might.

The first image above was taken from the security camera at a convenience store where Schreckengost filled up his gas tank in Naches on November 1. An experienced outdoorsman, Schreckengost visited the region bordering Yakima and Kittitas counties on a hunting trip. He left his lodge on the morning of Nov. 2 and never returned.

Since then, dozens of volunteers from across the Northwest joined the search for Schreckengost—a well-known leader for many at the Seattle Fire Department. Many of those crewmembers are part of Yakima and Kittitas counties’ Search and Rescue (SAR) teams. Dozens of others came down from Seattle to assist their efforts.

PREVIOUS: Teams scour rugged Cliffdell terrain as search for missing firefighter extends into second week

With the ‘Pineapple Express’ weather phenomenon in full swing, experienced SAR crews have braved the harsh and rugged conditions of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Cliffdell. Despite their best efforts, Schreckengost is still missing 10 days later.

Kittitas County authorities have been overwhelmed with concerned community members trying to join the search across the region. Given the current weather conditions and jagged conditions of the region they’re scouring, SAR teams have been forced to turn many volunteers away. The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said that 60 different agencies and organizations were involved with the search efforts.

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Only individuals who are certified as Search & Rescue workers are joining the quest to bring Chief Schreckengost home by this point. The Kittitas County Sheriff’s office offered the following comments on the subject:

Our search coordinators are 100% occupied with this urgent search and cannot vet people at this time; and we simply can’t send people out in these conditions and this terrain without having first hand knowledge of their skills, condition, and abilities. We know this has frustrated some people, and we appreciate their grace and understanding.

The Kittitas County Coroner said they will help complete the investigation and confirm the cause of the Chief’s death. The Schreckengost family and the Seattle Fire Department escorted him to the Johnston and Wiliams funeral home in Ellensburg.

“We’re saddened to give news of Chief Schreckengost’s passing to his family and fellow firefighters, and we ask the public and press to respect their privacy as they grieve his loss. We also want to thank everyone who participated in or supported this search. It was a tremendous outpouring of resources and effort that produced a vital result: a family knows what happened to their loved one and he can be brought home to them.” – Sheriff Clay Myers

Anyone with information that will contribute to the search is being urged to contact Kittcom at 509-925-8534.

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