On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, authorities announced that a body matching the description of 37-year-old trail runner Philip Kreycik was found in Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, California. Kreycik went missing during a July 10 trail run at the park, located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. During a press conference on Thursday, August 5, the Kreycik family confirmed Philip’s death.
Also on Thursday, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office released preliminary autopsy results confirming Kreycik wasn’t a victim of foul play or significant trauma, which they said leads them to believe he likely passed away due to a medical event precipitated by hot and dry weather conditions. Full autopsy results are yet to be released.
The Berkeley resident, husband, and father of two was last seen around 10:45 a.m. at the Moller Ranch Staging Area on the morning of July 10. Kreycik’s car was found at a trailhead where he started his hour-long run. His wife, Jen Yao, called the police around 2 p.m. that same day after he failed to check in. Kreycik, an experienced long-distance runner, had no known health conditions.
The Pleasanton Weekly reported that the Pleasanton Police Department organized and led the initial search efforts of the 50-square-mile area with 20 teams of law-enforcement members and community volunteers searching the park on foot, horseback, and electric mountain bikes. They also utilized canines, drones, fixed-wing aircraft, and heat-detecting technology.
The search for Kreycik quickly extended beyond local law enforcement. In the ensuing three weeks, Pleasanton residents and trail running community members stepped up in various ways to support the search effort.
Volunteers created a Facebook page dedicated to the search, and the public group grew to 12,700 members. An Instagram account dedicated to the efforts has also garnered more than 3,000 followers. The community supplemented official search-and-rescue volunteers, regularly filling calls for on-site search volunteers and heading up other support efforts.
Officials and volunteers established a likely route that Kreycik might have taken on July 10, based on a route that he had planned with his Strava app. Strava joined in on the search efforts by emailing all athletes who had activity in the area in the timeframe that Kreycik was thought to be on the trails. Strava asked that parties with any information reach out to the Pleasanton Police Department, although the effort did not turn up any leads.
Pleasanton police said the body was found by a search volunteer under a tree in a heavily wooded area in a remote part of the park approximately a quarter-mile off the trail that Kreycik was thought to be following. At the time of the August 3 press conference, it was unclear if the area had undergone previous search efforts.
“It’s not a designated trail,” said Police Captain Lance Brede of the East Bay Regional Police Department said in a press conference, noting that the area is not readily accessible or traveled by the public. “It’s an area that’s not designated for recreation. It would not be something that someone would come across.”
Brede added that undesignated game trails are common in the park, making it possible to get disoriented.
“We’re very heartbroken here today…” Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said in the August 3 press conference. “We wanted to bring him home alive and safe, so this is disappointing.”
Trail runner and friend Chris Thoburn shared his thoughts on Instagram:
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Here’s a post to the Find Philip Kreycik Instagram account by Philip’s wife Jen Yao:
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At the Thursday morning press conference, Philip’s family spoke, thanking the community for its support. “We can’t possibly ever truly express our appreciation and gratitude enough to really acknowledge what you have all done for us,” said Yao.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Kreycik’s family. The iRunFar family extends its condolences to the loved ones of Philip Kreycik.