Missing Hiker: $80K Raised For Family, Friend Shares New Details

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PLEASANTON, CA — A man leading volunteer search efforts to find friend Philip Kreycik shared new details in the search as donations continue to pour in for the family of the Berkeley father of two young children who went missing after going for a run in Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park.

More than 1,000 donors had helped raise $80,000 as of Wednesday afternoon through an online crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. The money will benefit search efforts and Kreycik’s family.

Official search efforts were significantly scaled back, but volunteers continued to knock on doors and canvass the area where Kreycik, a 37-year-old ultramarathon runner, was believed to have gone on a run. Kreycik saved a route on his phone, which was found in his car at the Moller Ranch staging area of the park.

Chris Thoburn, Kreycik’s longtime running friend, said last week in an online Q&A that Kreycik often left for a run without his phone and preferred not to carry much.

Evidence indicated that Kreycik never made it out of the park, Thoburn said. Kreycik texted his wife from the trailhead, and he was not captured by surveillance cameras near exit points.

Thoburn met up with Kreycik for a run the night before he was reported missing, he said. Kreycik was happy and content. He talked about life with his 8-month-old daughter and about work and running plans for Saturday morning while his wife and children were in Stockton with family, Thoburn said.

Thoburn and Kreycik ultimately did not meet up Saturday morning, when Kreycik disappeared. It’s unclear whether Kreycik was well-acquainted with Pleasanton Ridge, Thoburn said.

“Suffice it to say Philip was his usual loving, humble, and kind self with a very selfless dedication to his family,” Thoburn said.

Thoburn speculated that Kreycik likely fell victim to heat exhaustion, as he rarely ran in temperatures higher than 80 degrees. Triple-digit temperatures struck the East Bay on the day of his disappearance. Heat exhaustion can cause runners to make irrational decisions, Thoburn said, and his friend may have wandered into a ravine or shortcut in search of shade.

In the early days of the search, volunteer and official searchers headed to an area where a family in the area reportedly heard a cry for help. Searchers did not find any sign of Kreycik.

Thoburn said he suspected that the family may have heard searchers calling “Philip,” not “help.” It may also have been wildlife, he said.

Thoburn said he encountered a mountain lion at night while searching for Kreycik, and big cats are spotted often in the park. Searchers now have turned their focus to look for smaller body parts and odors that could point them to Kreycik’s remains.

The search has been difficult and unprecedented in Alameda County, where missing people are generally found within a day, said Ron Seitz, volunteer chief of Alameda County’s search and rescue unit, at a news conference last week. It’s especially unusual since Pleasanton Ridge is such a popular park, and it’s likely that a passerby could have offered help.

Hundreds of volunteers and search and rescue personnel have scoured more than 50 square miles in the area of the loop Kreycik planned to take. They have braved rattlesnakes and difficult terrain by foot and on horseback and via plane, e-bike and off-road vehicle, using search dogs, drones and heat-detecting technology.

“A hidden part [of helping] that I think people realize, but it’s often less recognized, is that it makes this incredibly lonely journey feel less alone,” Kreycik’s wife, Jen Yao, told Tom Wooten, a Harvard University classmate of Kreycik’s who also helped organize search efforts.

Anyone who wants to volunteer can check the Find Philip Kreycik Facebook page for updates and to get in touch with organizers.

Kreycik is described as white with a thin build and brown hair and eyes. Kreycik is a fit and friendly hiker and runner, a legendary outdoorsman who’s well-known in the Bay Area and Harvard University community for his “huge, jaw-dropping adventures,” Wooten previously told Patch. Kreycik works as a strategic analyst of clean energy transportation at Pacific Gas & Electric Co., according to his LinkedIn profile.

Anyone who may have information can contact Pleasanton police at 925-931-5100.


GoFundMe is a Patch promotional partner.


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