Volunteers searching for missing University Place hiker
By C.R. ROBERTS
Volunteers on Saturday evening continued searching for a University Place man believed to have gone missing Friday while on a hike in King County.
John Wright, 50, had been scheduled to retrieve his 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, from a Tacoma YMCA day camp at 6 p.m. on Friday. When he did not appear, and after a brief search in the area near his home, Wright’s wife, Virginia, contacted University Place Police.
“He likes to hike along the Chambers Bay Golf Course,” Virginia Wright said late Saturday afternoon.
“By 7:30 on Friday I contacted University Place deputies and reported him as a missing person. He had talked with his best friend and said he was thinking of doing a hike near Mount Si. I didn’t even know he was going to be hiking.”
His last recorded presence at home was at 9:08 a.m. Friday when he confirmed reservations online for a family boat trip scheduled for Saturday.
King County officials “pinged” Wright’s Verizon cellphone and discovered that it had last made contact at 1:30 p.m. Friday from an area near North Bend. Wright’s 2008 Nissan was found early Saturday afternoon at a trailhead along the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River, Virginia Wright said.
Some 40 members of the King County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit were searching the area Saturday, with Sheriff’s personnel staffing a command center near the trail head, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West on Saturday afternoon.
Trained dogs were also part of the search effort, she said, and had picked his scent from his car.
Virginia Wright said her husband was in excellent health and “is an avid hiker and mountain climber. He’s pretty smart about being prepared even for a day hike.”
He had not previously gone missing during an outing, she said, nor had he hiked on the trail where it is thought he went missing.
“He’s very savvy, very smart,” she said. “He would stick to the trail. There are several trails in that area. He could have gotten lost.”
John Wright is employed by the solid waste division of the Pierce County Health Department, Virginia Wright said.
She is employed as a veterinarian. She was waiting for news Saturday at the family home while other family members and friends were at the search site.
“It’s very stressful,” she said. “I’m just waiting by the phone. I’ve been trying to hold it together. (The searchers) are hopeful they will find him fairly soon.”