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'A heart for service': Community honors fire chief who died on hunting trip in Kittitas County

Jay Schreckengost died in Kittitas County in early November.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Seattle Deputy Fire Chief Jay Schreckengost, who died during a hunting trip in November, was honored during a funeral service in Bellevue on Sunday.

Citing an "incredibly difficult" few months, the Seattle Fire Department tweeted, "Rest in Peace Jay, we'll take it from here."

Schreckengost's body was found on Nov. 14, more than a week after he went missing in eastern Washington.

"Jay had a heart for service. He cared about the community," Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said. "You don't continue to do something for 31 years and not care. He served well."

A forensic investigation ordered by the coroner revealed Schreckengost sustained multiple injuries including a broken wrist and a broken spine. 

Further investigation in the area where Schreckengost was found led investigators to believe Schreckengost fell down a steep hillside or cliff face, according to a release from the Kittitas County. There was snow on the ground when Schreckengost went to scout for elk on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 2, making the nearby terrain slick, according to Kittitas County officials. 

Crews described the surrounding terrain as "steep" and "slippery" in some areas which require help from mountain technical rescue personnel. Schreckengost was described as an experienced hunter and outdoorsman. He was believed to be well-equipped for the trip.

The search for Schreckengost included 60 different agencies and organizations and thousands of hours from professional and trained volunteer searchers. 

"We are incredibly saddened by this news and are all grieving the loss of one of our own," a statement from Seattle Fire read. "Deputy Chief Schreckengost was a husband, father and friend to all, and our hearts are with his family right now who have been at the site every day searching alongside search and rescue, fire and law enforcement agencies."  

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