UPDATE 10 | November 19, 2021
It was a somber day as SFD Deputy Chief Jay Schreckengost’s body was brought home today. First responders and many firefighters lined the procession route to offer their condolences and respect for their Chief.
Firefighters and first responders stood in silence as they mourned his passing from a recent fall near Cliffdell, when he went out alone to scout for elk. He had called his wife that morning to say he parked his vehicle and would call back that night to let his family know he made it safely back to his rented cabin in Naches. After his family was unable to locate him, he was reported missing on November 2, 2021.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office released this Official Statement about his cause of death and further details:
“The body of Deputy Fire Chief Jay Schreckengost was transported home to Seattle today by members of the Seattle Fire Department in Fire Department vehicles.
A forensic examination of the Chief ordered by the Kittitas County Coroner revealed numerous injuries including a broken wrist and broken spine. The autopsy concluded the cause of the Chief’s death was multiple blunt force trauma. Further investigation in the field led investigators to believe Chief Schreckengost fell down a steep hillside or cliff faces more than once before coming to rest where he was found last Sunday.
It’s known that there was snow on the ground when Chief Schreckengost went scouting for Elk on the morning of Tuesday, 11/2—creating slick conditions in that already rugged and dangerous terrain. The location where he was found was near the bottom of a sharp, broken slope about 700 feet in elevation, north-northeast from the end of Spur Rd 553 off Forest Service Rd 1703 in the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest near Cliffdell.
It’s believed the Chief slipped or fell down a part of that slope into the terrain where he could neither climb back up nor safely descend. Another fall brought him near the bottom of the slope and caused a fatal spinal fracture.
The area where the Chief came to rest was covered in thick brush and could not be safely navigated by searchers without technical climbing equipment and expertise.
The team that located him on the afternoon of Sunday, 11/14, included members of Mountain Rescue Teams from Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, and the Olympic and Central Mountain Rescue Teams. These teams are skilled and trained volunteers who searched miles of cliff bands in the mountainous area near the Chief’s last known location before finally locating him.
The Mountain Rescue Teams and all the Search and Rescue volunteers who participated were part of a monumental effort including and spurred by the passion of Chief Schreckengost’s fellow Seattle Firefighters.
The coordination and commitment of everyone who assisted in the search was a fitting tribute to the Chief, and we hope that his final voyage home provides some comfort to all who loved him.”
If you are a first responder, Fire/Police, EMS, Dispatcher, or a family of one and find it difficult with this news, please reach out for free, confidential 24/7/365 assistance to Safe Call Now by calling 206-459-3020.
More information will be updated if a Celebration of Life will be open to the public or to his close families (immediate and Fire), friends and family. – We hope you will say a prayer or two or thought for those impacted by this tragic loss. – Ed.
(c) 2021 NW Fire Blog