Kreycik’s research revealed ‘the best of humanity’ | Around the Valley | Gina Channel Wilcox
While most think of a community as a group of people living in the same area, the community that came together last year to search for a missing runner transcended geographic boundaries. This community was built on shared values of social responsibility and compassion and a common goal – to find Philip Kreycik.
Although Kreycik, his wife and two young children lived in Berkeley, news that Kreycik, 37, disappeared from Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park on July 10, 2021, spread quickly through the Tri-Valley. During the more than three-week search, thousands of people — including law enforcement personnel from multiple Bay Area agencies and more than 800 volunteers — gathered and continued the exhaustive search. to find the missing runner, even weeks after the official search effort had been drastically reduced.
Pleasanton resident David Selinger marked the one-year anniversary of the day Kreycik disappeared with a beautifully written social media post in which he acknowledged the many people who helped with the search – from the Pleasanton Police Department, who was there minutes after Kreycik’s wife, Jen Yao, reported Kreycik missing, to community volunteers who searched the park, to those who supported the searchers.
Selinger wrote, “They all showed up. Nobody made them. No one asked them, but they all introduced themselves. They all gave everything they had to find Philip, giving 100% to give this family what they knew they needed. We didn’t make it, but we saw the best of humanity in the 30 days that followed.
Hundreds of volunteers spent hours traversing the park on foot, on horseback and on electric mountain bikes. The dog handlers brought their dogs. Amatuer and professional drone operators took pictures.
Many volunteers who did not seek contributed in other very important ways,
Sandy Schneider, one of the main research coordinators and administrator of the Facebook group “Find Philip Kreycik”, said: “Everyone’s donation of time or food or whatever they brought to the table, everyone had been doing since the goodness of their own heart. There were no strings attached. No one was expecting anything from anyone.”
People brought a lot of different things to the table. Some made sandwiches for the researchers. Some have studied drone footage. Some flyers displayed. The children had lemonade stands to raise awareness and funds for food donations.
A Valley Trails family opened their yard for a volunteer barbecue, which gave the group of workers an opportunity to “take a break and bond,” Schneider said.
Restaurants and grocery stores in Pleasanton rallied together to donate food and water to the hundreds of searchers. Grocery Outlet was the first to donate food and water, and they were soon joined by Inklings Cafe, Costco, Mr. Pickles, Porky’s Pizza, Pizza Bello, Safeway, Lucky California, Gene’s Fine Foods and Raley’s.
The Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt House hotels in Pleasanton were quick to provide free rooms to Kreycik’s family members for as long as needed, just over three weeks.
The official search was drastically reduced by five or six days and eventually called off after authorities said 100% of the park had been searched. But the volunteers continued.
“The team of volunteers never gave up. We never said we were going to stop. We just kept going,” Schneider said, saying they aimed to find Kreycik, which they did.
The sad discovery of human remains later identified as Kreycik was made on August 3 by a self-searching volunteer. It was determined that he was likely deceased on the day of his disappearance.
Schneider credited Betsy Everett of Fremont, who worked with law enforcement and volunteers to ensure all areas were searched, with eventually finding Kreycik.
“We had to coordinate who was going up, when they were going up, where they were going up, map it, trace it, make sure they were coming back and do a debrief for all these amateur volunteers, check them out so we didn’t lose nobody,” Schneider said. “Betsy coordinated this. It’s a star.
“There was this little square area that hadn’t been excavated and Betsy figured that out because she had mapped out all the areas,” Schneider continued. “(The volunteers) finally decided to go up there and look at this little square that was right next to the path, and that’s where they found it.”
Lt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said the search for Kreycik was the largest missing person search in the state at the time of his disappearance and one of the largest searches in the history of the Alameda County.
“We brought together a huge number of law enforcement and community volunteers,” Kelly said, adding that he knows people who have volunteered for searches for 30 or 40 years and that he is It was the largest search for a missing person that they can remember in terms of resources and energy.
“On the one-year anniversary, we want to thank everyone who came out to help,” Kelly said. “It was an outstanding example of community engagement and an example of the kind of response we need in situations like this, when community members come together to help.”
“We still think of Philip and his family fondly and hope they recover,” Kelly said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
The family – Philip’s widow Yao, parents Keith and Marcia Kreycik and sister Clare – impressed everyone.
“I don’t know how they managed to do what they did, with the calmness and grace that they had,” Schneider said. “They were so grateful for what we had done in this community. They were so humbled and so grateful. You rarely meet people like that. They expected nothing from anyone. »
On August 5, 2021, Kreycik’s widow expressed this gratitude in a post on the Find Philip Kreycik Facebook page.
“We can never express our gratitude and appreciation enough to truly recognize what you have done and continue to do for us,” Yao wrote. “The effort of the past few weeks is the greatest demonstration of collaboration, selflessness, care and kindness that humanity can offer in the face of an incredibly difficult situation…”
The family continues to mourn, of course, but so do the people who never knew Kreycik in their lifetime, like the volunteers.
According to Schnieder, “There remains a big hole in many people’s hearts.”
In his post, Selinger summed up how many feel on the anniversary when he wrote, “I found a new family of sorts. My heart aches for the Kreycik family knowing that there is nothing we can do to change this outcome; but I also look forward to knowing that somehow Philip’s last act was to bring together a strong new family” to support the Kreyciks in the future.
“I will wait emboldened by love for all of these people and hope that we can all live with such love in our hearts.”