UPDATE 7: November 12, 2021, 2230 PT
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office has released a statement for Friday, November 12, 2021.
“The search for Seattle Deputy Fire Chief Jay Schreckengost is still happening. The many Search and Rescue, Fire and Law Enforcement volunteers who’ve participated in and supported this search have been undeterred by challenging terrain and cold, wet conditions. These remarkable, trained volunteers and professionals will continue the search tomorrow and Sunday if need be, to bring the Chief home to his family.
This photo was pulled from a security camera where the Chief bought gas in Naches on Monday night, 11/1, the day before he went hunting and went missing. Please keep him, his family, and the searchers in your thoughts.
To the generous people who’ve offered to help search but are not certified SAR workers, Firefighters, or Law Enforcement: thank you for your desire to help.
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. We also want to reassure everyone who wants to see the Chief found.
We have an amazing team of skilled people that includes both local knowledge and subject-matter expertise. And we continue to ask for anyone with information they believe might help the search to call Kittcom at 509-925-8534.
We are getting tips and suggestions and we are following up on them.” – KCSO
SAR Volunteers Are A Priceless Asset
I met my future husband on a SAR training exercise one weekend more than three decades ago. At the time I met him, I had already gained two years of training in the Disaster SAR world as a volunteer and Board member.
He was an air scent K9 Handler for a SAR Dog organization within our local County Sheriff’s Office.
Over the course of several years, we found ourselves deeply involved with various SAR groups in both King and Pierce Counties. Due to an ankle injury, I was unable to follow my dream of being a SAR K9 handler with my husband but instead was a great supporter for him and involved in other groups supporting the County Sheriff’s Office. Though we have since been long inactive from any SAR group, we know that these men and women, but young and older, are part of a great organization that works to bring back loved ones to their families to help with closure. They have invested a lot into this and they deserve to be recognized for these efforts, no matter how small or large an incident is or becomes.
To become a SAR volunteer, it is required to take several compliance classes, such as First Aid/CPR/AED, Bloodborne Pathogens, Crime Scene Awareness, Helicopter Safety, Map and Compass, SAR Techniques, SAR Survival, FEMA Government classes IS100 and IS700, Searcher Safety and the list goes on. There are required classes that must be taken through the County SAR Academy each year. (King has one). Some organizations within an association may have additional training needed to become “certified” with their group.
These men and women in SAR today will go beyond the ends of the Earth when they are called 24/7/365, just like a firefighter does when their Dispatch Center sends them out on a call or, like the Coast Guard when they are sent to save someone on a cliff or in dangerous seas. These two professions I mentioned here are paid, while Search-and-Rescue volunteers are just that – 100% volunteer. Many of them devote time away from their families, co-workers, friends, and communities they live, work, and play in. They spend a large number of countless hours receiving educational classes/courses/required training so they are compliant with Washington State laws.
They are the best at what they do because they have put in tireless efforts, deep devotion, logging a high sheer volume of training hours and education, as well as the most important activity – responding to SAR-related missions.
Washington State Mandates for SAR Volunteers
The State of Washington requires a lot of “required” training, which is governed by the Revised Code of Washington or what we call “RCW” (Chapter 38.52). As spelled out by this Law, the State Emergency Management Division, located at Camp Murray states how the law is very clear on many levels with all things SAR related by our State:
“Search and Rescue (SAR) in the State of Washington is governed primarily by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) chapter 38.52. This law defines search and rescue, assigns responsibilities for SAR, establishes the position and duties of the state coordinator for SAR Operations (SAR coordinator), and establishes the extensive liability protection and compensation program which protects SAR volunteers in the State of Washington. Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 118-04 implements the provisions of RCW 38.52 by establishing the procedures and qualifications for registration of “emergency workers” (volunteers) and explains how the compensation program is administered.
The responsibility for land search and rescue operations rests with the “local chief law enforcement officer” (usually the County Sheriff). State law assigns responsibility for air search for downed or missing civil aircraft to the Department of Transportation, Aviation Division (RCW 47.68). Upon location of the downed aircraft, the incident becomes a land SAR operation under the direction and control of the chief law enforcement officer in whose jurisdiction the incident site is located.
Local directors of emergency management coordinate support for SAR operations in their jurisdictions and register volunteers in accordance with WAC 188-04. The state SAR Coordinator is responsible for resource coordination, multi-jurisdiction operations coordination, and administration of the Emergency Worker Program. There are 600-700 SAR missions a year in the state.
When appropriate, the coordinator manages the state’s role in Emergency Support Function (ESF) 9, Urban Search and Rescue (National Response Plan), and may activate the state’s Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) for operations coordination in large and/or multi-jurisdictional SAR missions. More information about the RCC is below.
Search and Rescue resources within the state come primarily from citizen volunteers, more than 5,000 strong, who cooperate with local law enforcement, giving of their time and personal resources to train and to search for and rescue lost and injured people.
The initial point of contact for local SAR coordinators or emergency management offices when requesting additional SAR mission resources is the State Emergency Operations Officer (SEOO).
SAR Volunteers (Certified) Covered by State Insurance
The Emergency Worker Program is a volunteer-oriented program established by RCW 38.52.310. Emergency workers are provided liability, medical, and personal property coverage as well as reimbursement for some incidental expenses while deployed on state-approved incidents and training events. There are 18 classes or categories of emergency workers including Communications, Medical, and Search and Rescue. Full details on the program are contained in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapter 118-04.
Learn More About SAR Groups
To learn more about local SAR Groups in the State of Washington, you can contact one of several listed here: (Note: this is not a complete list of organizations as there are 39 counties in our State).
Clark County Sheriff’s Office SAR: https://ccsosarwa.org/
King County Search and Rescue Association (KCSARA): https://kingcountysar.org/
Kitsap County SAR: https://www.kitsapdem.com/disasters/search-rescue/
Kittitas County Search and Rescue: https://kittitassar.org/
Lewis County SAR Inc.: https://www.lcsr-ems.org/
Mason County SAR: http://masoncountysar.org/
Pierce County Search and Rescue Council: https://www.pc-sar-council.org/
Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue: https://scvsar.org/
Spokane county SAR: https://www.facebook.com/spokanecountysar/ (Facebook Page)
Thurston County SAR Council: https://www.thurstoncountysar.org/home
Yakima County Search and Rescue: http://yakimasar.com/sar-groups/
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UPDATE 6: November 11, 2021, 1830 PT
The search for missing avid outdoorsman and experienced hunter/Seattle Fire Deputy Chief, Jay Schreckengost, is now entering its second week and multiple long days of searching for him. Those who continue to look for him as still hoping for a positive outcome of him being brought home to safety.
Snohomish County scanner traffic reporting SAR10 and SR41, resource request for the missing Chief at 1755 hours, November 11, 2021 (Thursday) to respond to the scene for mutual aid assistance.
- Day 1: WSP Troopers assisted with the search.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office released this statement yesterday on their Facebook Page:
“The search for Seattle Deputy Fire Chief Jay Schreckengost is ongoing today, Wednesday 11/10, in the hills above Cliffdell in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Over a hundred people continued to participate in the search yesterday, including state Search and Rescue planners, K9 teams, drone teams, 4×4 teams, mountain rescue teams, and ground teams; a similar contingent is expected today. A significant portion of ground searchers is made up of Seattle and other Fire Department personnel.
SFD Battalion Chiefs are working with Sheriff’s Office Search Coordinators as liaisons, helping to manage the integration of these trained first responders into a rugged mountain wilderness rescue operation. Seattle Fire command personnel are on scene today, being briefed on search efforts and supporting their personnel.
The Sheriff’s Office thanks everyone who’s called Kittcom at 509-925-8534 with information that could potentially aid in the search. Please be assured that every avenue is being explored and every tip or suggestion is being evaluated in our urgency to find the Chief.”
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UPDATE 5: November 9, 2021
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office has been very diligent and busy with the vast array of the multitude of disciplines and specialized searchers, both SAR volunteers and others that have joined the “search” for the avid hunter and Seattle Fire Deputy Chief Jay Schreckengost enter another day of desperately looking for the missing fire Chief. Updates from the Sheriff’s Department are not daily and we are only adding updates as information is received.
A statement from the Kittitas County Sheriff Office was released on Monday, November 5, 2021. We ask that you not jump to any conclusions as to what you “think” happened or is happening. The Sheriff’s Office, we greatly assume is under heavy pressure from family and others to find their missing subject as quickly as possible.
“UPDATE 8:50 pm 11/8/21: THANKS FOR SHARING AND CALLING! WITH YOUR ASSISTANCE WE’VE CONTACTED THIS PERSON AND CAN MOVE ON WITH THE SEARCH.
Witnesses have described seeing a grey jeep along the portion of forest service rd 1703 above Cliffdell boxed out in the map below, on Tuesday morning, 11/2/21. We believe it was driven by another hunter in the area–the witnesses said they’d seen it around before–and we’re interested in talking to them to verify some of the facts underlying our search for Chief Schreckengost. The jeep described was grey, perhaps a 2000’s model, with a luggage rack attached to the bumper hitch. Based on the witness description we think it was a Wrangler.
There is NOTHING to suggest anyone associated with this jeep is a suspect in any wrongdoing, and we would ask that everyone refrain from wild and baseless speculation. We simply want to have the benefit of another pair of eyes that might have been in the area when Chief Schreckengost was on the move. If that vehicle or its driver is known to you, or if you own it, please call Kittcom at 509-925-8534.”
Area Designators | For those who are unfamiliar with these search areas.
- Cliffdell is in Yakima County. SR410 is also named the Chinook Scenic Byway and the Stephen Mather Memorial Parkway, which is a 107.44-mile long state highway that extends in Pierce, King, and Yakima Counties, Washington.
- Oak Creek Wildlife Refuge is located in Stephens County.
- Wenatchee National Forest: is a 1,735,394-acres or 2,711-square miles that extends 137 miles along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range of Washington from the Okanogan National Forest to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The forest is located in Chelan, Kittitas and Yakima counties.
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UPDATE 4: November 6, 2021, 1900 PT
Weather Reports | There is a Winter Weather Advisory in effect until Monday, November 8, 2021, that ends at 0600 hours PT. Snow and ice impacts over the next 5 days are expected. Snow accumulations in the amount of four to eight inches have been forecasted. Current temps at 1755 hours PT was listed as 29*F.
Future weather forecasts indicate 1-3″ between 0000 starting Tuesday, November 9th and to end at 2000 hours. A coating to one- inch is expected to begin on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, from 0800 hours to 2200 hours. Tuesday, November 11, 2021, there is an estimated 3-6″ of snow to start dropping at 0200 and ending at 0800 hours.
There is a 20-percent chance that there will be closures in the area on both Monday and Tuesday.
Update from KCSO | The Kittitas County Sheriff released a statement earlier this evening, stating they have continued their active search for missing avid and experienced hunter and SFD Deputy Chief Jay Schreckengost who was last heard from his family on November 2nd, after failing to report he returned safely to his rental cabin that same night. He left his pick-up about three miles north of SR 410 to scout for elk he planned to hunt the following day.
Since, the last day he was heard or seen from, large search parties across the state have been scouring the Wenatchee National Forest area to locate and bring him home.
Resources | Resources include SAR volunteers and other personnel who are volunteering their time and efforts from seven counties, including from the Seattle Fire Department. The Department has also provided equipment and logistical support which is being overseen y Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, a Chinook helicopter has been provided by the Air Force and specialized SAR units that consist of Mtn Rescue, 4×4 SAR and six SAR K9 teams.
Conditions | Search conditions include difficult and rugged terrain, adverse weather that includes the last two days of periodic snow falling in the search area.
The Chief’s family is present, both searching with trained personnel in the field and assisting with intelligence for the search at the base of operations.
Tips or Information | The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office and all the committed personnel involved in the search know the deep concern of SFD for their missing Chief, and share their urgency to find and bring him home. Anyone with information they believe might help the search for Chief Schreckengost is asked to call Kittcom, Kittitas County’s dispatch center, at 509-925-8534.
Editor’s Comments: As a former SAR volunteer with a different County, we know that these are difficult and emotional times for all those involved. Additionally, we know the Counties are working diligently to bring all resources together to locate him as quickly as possible. If not already called, we are hoping they are using the PNW Trackers and trailing SAR K9s from King County or within/near their County. We will post more information as the exact resource list is available. – Ed
Point-Last-Seen | The location of the coordinates given by the Chief’s daughter in her original post on 11/4/2021, we think this may be the area they are referring to. This is said to be at FS Road 1703.
USFS FS Road Alerts | Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
- FS Rd. 1703 Gold Creek Road. Alert issued September 30, 2021. It was decommissioned from milepost 2.0 to 2.1. Areas below this road system can be accessed below the decommissioned area from Forest Service Road 1703. Above the decommissioned area by FS Road 1705.
- FS Rd. 1900 Little Naches. Alert issued September 30, 2021.
- FS Rd. 1901 Quartz Creek. Alert issues September 30, 2021.
- FS Rd. 1308 Indian Creek, Alert issued August 20, 2021. Closed at junction with 1382 due to flood waters and large debris that washed out and blocked the last portion of the road to the trailhead. No anticipated repair at this time.
About Cliffdell, Washington | This is an unincorporated community in Yakima County, about 23 miles west of Ellensburg (Kittitas County), Washington. It was originally named Spring Flats but later their name was changed to honor settlers Cliff and Della Schott of Seattle, Washington.
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UPDATE 3: November 6, 2021, 1235 PT
Updated information regarding Donating to Search and Rescue organizations participating in the search and KCSO’s November 4th original statement released (via Facebook).
Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputies and volunteers with Kittitas Search and Rescue are actively searching for Seattle Fire Department Deputy Chief Jay Schreckengost in the Cliffdell area of Kittitas County, north of State Route 410.
Chief Schreckengost texted his family he would be elk hunting in the area when he left his rented cabin near SR 410 on Tuesday, 11/2; but they didn’t receive notification of his return to the cabin that night.
The area where Chief Schreckengost was staying and hunting is close to the boundary between Kittitas and Yakima counties; his family notified the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office he hadn’t returned.
Yakima determined the area he was hunting in was in Kittitas County, and both Sheriff’s Offices now have resources committed to the search.
Chief Schreckengost’s pickup was located on Wednesday and became the epicenter of the search.
As of Thursday morning, Search and Rescue coordinators are overseeing seven teams of ground searchers, four K9 search teams, and infrared-equipped drones from both counties.
Dozens of volunteers from the Seattle Fire Department have been incorporated into the effort to locate their Deputy Chief. The search is occurring in remote and challenging mountainous terrain with limited, narrow access roads.
Search teams need unfettered access to work most efficiently as they hope to locate the Chief before the onset of expected bad weather this weekend, and ask people not involved in the search to stay clear.
Anyone who has any information they believe could help locate Chief Schreckengost is asked to call Kittcom, the unified Kittitas County emergency dispatch center, at 509-925-8534.
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UPDATE 2: November 6, 2021, 1110 PT
Incident Summary | Though avid hunter and SFD DC Chief Jay Schreckengost has not been located (yet) and we are all hopeful that he will be (soon), here is an update on the search activity that has occurred since Friday into today, Saturday.
Private Searches Funding | NOTE: Both the Kittitas and Yakima County Sheriff’s Offices and volunteers do not charge for SAR missions. The Search and Rescue associations that support these Counties, including any others are operated by 100% volunteers. Donations can be offered to these groups to help offset costs (out of their own pockets) which also include gear, equipment, food, lodging (if they are not camping or staying in vehicles), fuel, operational, and other expenses.
Daughter Creates GoFundMe page | See below her information.
SATURDAY SEARCH (ORGANIZED BY DAUGHTER, MARISA SCHRECKENGOST)
Chief Schreckengost’s daughter, Marisa, made a plea on her Social Media page for all first responders and trained able bodies to help search for her dad between 0700-0730 on Saturday searching from Whistlin Jack Lodge. Wants all to check in with her before going up to the trail to search for him.
UPDATE: FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE, OR TRAINED PERSONNEL ONLY AT THIS POINT. ANOTHER SEARCH WILL START AT 7/730am tomorrow (Saturday) from Whistlin Jack lodge. Please check in here for an assignment before going up to the trail.
The GoFundMe page is asking for $10,000 to help fund his private search party’s lodging, food, gas, and private air searches. As of today, they have reached $12,865, which is over and above their goal. If you would still like to help them with their efforts, go to their GoFundMe page as listed above.
PLEASE SHARE WITH ALL PAGES AND NETWORKS. CALLING ON ALL OF OUR FIREFIGHTER & POLICE BROTHERS (OR OTHER TRAINED PERSONNEL/ABLE BODIES)— the Schreckengost family needs your help in finding my father, Jay. He is a Seattle Fire Deputy Chief and is still missing.
We are incredibly worried as he was supposed to check in Tuesday evening during his hunting trip. We are looking for people to help support the search and rescue team.
Please see the instructions below:
1. The search party will begin at 7/730am at the Whistlin’ Jack lodge and restaurant.
2. If you arrive after this time, the search party is located at these coordinates: Gold creek wildlife area forest road 1703- Mapping coordinates 46.971028-121.010631 (this is where his truck is located and must have parked to scout)
3. Please approach the command unit and sign up for a search team and grab rescue gear (vest, gps, etc). If you have an orange vest, please bring one. Be prepared for rain and durable hiking shoes.
4. The rescue team will provide further instructions.
IF YOU HAVE HOUSING (CABINS, RVS, ETC). we are looking to house all search and rescue teams. Please reach out if you have anything available. Housing is an issue.
If you’re coming to help, please carpool if you can and reach out to your networks to find lodging if you can as there are not many places to stay close to the trail.
If you’re able to help, we would greatly appreciate it. We are desperate to find him. I don’t have service so please use this post as your communication.
Seattle Firefighters Join Search for Missing Colleague | “Last night, we received news that one of our Seattle Fire Dept. Deputy Chiefs – Jay Schreckengost – was reported to be missing in Eastern Washington. We are deeply saddened about this news and are holding Jay and his family close in our hearts. We are hopeful for positive news that he will be found safe. A group of Seattle firefighters has traveled over to Eastern, WA today to assist local authorities in their search.” – Seattle Fire Department/November 4, 2021.
“We are keeping both the Chief and first responders in our thoughts.” – Nile-Cliffdell Fire & Rescue District #4.
Resource | Horseback | Private searching for the Deputy Chief includes horseback for several days. Reports of rough terrain and conditions well into day’s end to the edge of when they lost daylight.
Point-Last-Seen | Map of Area
Jay Schreckengost was last seen on November 2nd, at 7:00am at the Oak Creek wildlife area on Forest Road 1703- Mapping coordinates 46.971028-121.010631.
Resource | Air Support
A Chinook helicopter was spotted to assist from the air. (News Media: Yakima Herald)
News Coverage | News Media | Hundreds of SAR volunteers continue the search for missing Seattle DC Fire Chief Schreckengost. Per SFD, states this is very much an active SAR mission as the Deputy Chief has been missing for five days. (Brian Flores TV/KCPQ 13 Fox News /Seattle)
Another Firefighter in Washington Still Missing | Joshua Ryan Milton, 36, of Bothell, Washington | Missing since December 2015 | A missing firefighter’s vehicle was found at Deception Pass on December 12, 2015. He was reported missing after failing to report to a shift at Harborview Medical Center’s Paramedic School. Searches in this area were unsuccessful. We know his friends and family are still searching for him to this day. | Call Seattle Police if you have any information or tips on his whereabouts.
Donations to Volunteer Organizations | You can help support these volunteers by visiting their page and making a donation. Here are several organizations we see are participating in this search.
Kittitas County Search and Rescue (Association) | https://kittitassar.org | Based out of Ellensburg, Washington
The KCSR organization was formed in 1991 at the request of the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office. Their mission is to provide personnel to the Sheriff’s Office to conduct search, rescue, recovery, and evacuation operations primarily within Kittitas County. They are highly trained and experienced in types of missions that may include: lost or missing persons, injured hikers or climbers, lost or injured snowmobilers, avalanche search and rescue, airplane crashes, evidence searches, forest fire road closures and floods/evacuations. There are 10 specialized teams within their Association that include: Communications, Ground Teams, Backcountry Ground Team, Winter Backcountry Ground Team, Horse Team, Snowmobile Team, ORV Team, Dog (SARK9s) Team, UAS Team, Mission Support Team and the Youth SAR Team.
They only serve under the direction of the Sheriff’s Office and cannot be called outside of this Law Enforcement agency.
They hold their meetings in Ellensburg (even-numbered months) and Cle Elum (odd months). The Public is welcome to attend.
Yakima County Search and Rescue (Council) | yakimasar.com | Based out of Yakima, Washington
The YCSAR is all about individuals who are 100% volunteers that give their time and efforts “So That Others May Live” (a known SAR tagline that all volunteers live by). The Council is made up of several different specialized units that search for missing hunters, hikers, snowmobilers, skiers, bikers, the young, and the elderly. They also assist/rescue injured persons that have resulted from falling from horseback, mountains, or other wilderness activities. They help with equipment mobilization for wildland firefighting activities. Other SAR activities may include safety patrols for community events.
The Council has seven groups, the ATV Team, Water Response Team, Snowmobile Team, Yakima County SAR team, Amateur Radio Emergency Services, Upper Valley SAR Team and the Central Washington Mountain Rescue unit.
Donations (Check or Money Order) can be sent to Yakima County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, 1822 South 1st Street, Yakima, Washington 98903.
To learn more about this organization or learn about joining SAR, you can visit info@YakimaSAR.com.
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UPDATE 1: November 4, 2021, 2230 PT
Incident Summary | NACHES, WASHINGTON — An experienced and avid hunter, a 30-year veteran with the Seattle Fire Deputy Chief Jay Schreckengost was reported missing by his family on November 2, 2021, after elk hunting in the area of Cliffdell, near SR 410. On Tuesday, DC Schreckengost’s wife had received a text from him that he had parked his truck and was headed out to go hunting. He was to return to his rented cabin at the Squaw Rock Resort.
Location of Lodging/Cabin | The RV Resort and Campground is located in the 15000 block on SR410 in Naches, Washington. Cliffdell is located approximately 22.6 miles from the Naches area. When his wife never received his text stating he had returned home that night, his family reportedly went looking for him on Wednesday but were unable to locate him and called the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office to report him as a missing hunter.
Two Counties Serving in Unified Command | Together, both Kittitas and Yakima Counties have pulled their vast array of resources together and are in Unified Command, which includes numerous Deputies, SAR volunteers, infrared drones, and members from the Seattle Fire Department.
AVOID THIS AREA.
Point-Last-Seen | His daughter posted on Social Media that her father, DC Schreckengost was last seen at 0700 hours on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, in the Oak Creek Wildlife area, off of Forest Service Road 1703. Lat/Long 46.971028 -121.010631.
Description | He is described as a caucasian male in his late fifties about 6’2″, around 250-pounds, bald, and has blue eyes.
HUNTER / SEATTLE FIRE DEPUTY CHIEF JAY SCHRECKENGOST
Seattle FD Official Statement Released | “We are hoping Deputy Chief Schreckengost is found soon and is safe – until then we continue to keep him and his family in our thoughts and hearts. Thank you to all who are assisting with the search efforts to locate him.” – Seattle Fire Department FB Page
Truck Recovered | His truck was recovered on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, as reported by Law Enforcement Officials. A search appears to be ongoing from the point-last-seen from the recovered truck location.
Tips or Info? Call the KITTCOM Dispatch Center | If you have any information on his whereabouts, please call KITTCOM at 509-925-8534.
Media Blitz Coverage | Please SHARE this post with your friends, family, co-workers, and on your Social Media platforms, so that we can help assist in bringing him back to his family. – Thank you.
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