A body was found on Pleasanton Ridge, about 250 feet off a game trail beneath a tree, on Tuesday afternoon that authorities believe is likely the remains of Berkeley runner Philip Kreycik, who had been missing in the area since July 10.
Positive identification is pending, as is a coroner's autopsy to determine cause of death, but police said at a press conference just before 5 p.m. Tuesday that all signs point to the body being Kreycik's.
"On behalf of the Pleasanton Police Department, we want to extend our sincere condolences to the Kreycik family as well as offer what support we can to the family and friends," Lt. Erik Silacci said.
A volunteer searching for Kreycik on their own located his body at the northwest end of what the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department called a "very remote area" of Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park at around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The site was located west of Blessing Drive, about a quarter mile from Kreycik's intended route, and not too far south of Interstate 580.
"It's not a designated trail," said EBRPD Police Capt. Lance Brede, adding the area is not used by the public nor intended for recreation. "It would not be something that someone would come across." Officials do not know if that area had previously been searched.
Kreycik, 37, was last seen at the Moller Ranch staging area, where the ultramarathon runner parked his car before presumably going for an hour-long run on the Ridge late on the morning of July 10. After not hearing from him, Kreycik's wife, Jen Yao, called the police around 2 p.m. that day.
It was the first of many communications between the Kreycik family and Pleasanton Police Department, and a relationship that grew to include a web of Pleasanton city officials, first-responders search-and-rescue volunteers and everyday residents.
Last Wednesday, Mayor Karla Brown attended a special private meeting with Kreycik's family and PPD to ensure they knew officials were "not walking away from this."
At the time, Kreycik's mother Marcia told the Weekly that nothing about her son's disappearance made any sense.
"He's so focused on his choice of career, he was also focused on guardianship of this earth as well as guardianship of his family and friends," Marcia Kreycik said. "That's the person he is; he's not just one to go off and leave everything he values behind."
Yao said last week that her husband and father of two was the type of person who "brings people together, whether it's through adventures or something like this."
"He really wants you to look at the world and just really enjoy it and not rush by it, and really to stop and care," Yao said.
Hours after the body presumed to be Kreycik was recovered about 2,000 feet from the running trail, Brown told the Weekly, "I am grateful Philip Kreycik's body has been found and will be returned to his family. I want to express my appreciation to the hundreds of Pleasanton residents, Pleasanton police officers and Alameda County officers that searched relentlessly for him."
A case that captivated the Tri-Valley -- and much of the Bay Area -- since Kreycik went missing on a weekend marked by a scorching heat wave, the initial search efforts saw 20 teams of law enforcement members and community volunteers search the park on foot, horseback and mountain e-bikes. Canines, drones, fixed-wing aircraft, and heat-detecting technology were also used in some cases.
Local businesses and hundreds of residents lent their time and resources, including food, bottled water and other supplies that were donated for the search effort. A search base camp was also set up at Foothill High School while a group of Donlon Elementary School students used proceeds from their lemonade stand to buy breakfast for search and rescue workers.
Extending down to Sunol, the 50-square-mile multi-agency search lasted about a week, but volunteers continued to search on their own, along with coordinated search-and-rescue efforts on the weekends, until the body was discovered on Tuesday.
It's possible that Kreycik may have mistaken a game trail -- a clear path in a forest that's trodden by deer and other wildlife -- for one that was manmade, authorities said. "Philip could have thought it was a trail that he was on. It’s very easy to get disoriented out there," Brede said.
Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office concurred: "We roughly estimate based on terrain there that you could continue on straight and not realize you had gone off the trail. The environment out there, it plays tricks on your eyes, with multiple layers of foliage and vegetation.”
The county coroner's office will be responsible for official identification and determining the cause of death, but officials said there were no initial signs of foul play. Heat exhaustion or injuries also haven't been ruled out yet as possibilities.
Pleasanton police noted that the body matched Kreycik's description.
EBRPD police will lead a follow-up investigation, with the sheriff's crime lab lending assistance as needed.
“We will treat this case with the utmost investigative integrity. At the end of the day, everybody wants answers as to why and how, and they deserve those answers,” Kelly said.
A Harvard graduate and energy analyst for PG&E, Kreycik lived in Berkeley and is survived by his wife Jen Yao, two young children, parents Keith and Marcia, and sister Claire.
Anyone who may have seen Kreycik on July 10 is asked to call Pleasanton police at 925-931-5107.