Missing 22-Year-Old Hiker Found Dead in Calif. Wilderness Park: 'The Family Is Extremely Grieved'

Zachary Zernik, Hiker Who Was Missing for Over a Week Found Dead in California
Zachary Zernik, Hiker Who Was Missing for Over a Week Found Dead in California

Ventura County Sheriff's Office/Facebook Zachary Zernik

A missing hiker was found dead in California on Thursday morning, five days after he was last seen by his family.

The body of 22-year-old Zachary Zernik was found around 9:00 a.m. local time in the Boney Mountain State Wilderness Park, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Zernik's remains were discovered at the base of a cliff, according to local television station KABC-TV.

"​​His death appears accidental," police wrote on Thursday, noting that "there is no evidence of crime or foul play."

A cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner following an autopsy.

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Police say Zernik, of Thousand Oaks, was last seen by his family around 8:00 a.m. on Jan. 28, and that he failed to show up for work that Monday.

He was reported missing on Wednesday, according to KABC-TV and the Ventura County Star.

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Police were able to locate his vehicle on Wednesday morning at a trailhead near Thousand Oaks, reported The Los Angeles Times.

The following day, the sheriff's office began searching for the area, according to the Sacramento Bee.

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Thanks to a photo Zernik sent his friends on Saturday, authorities were able to use the metadata to narrow their search area, Ventura County Sheriff Cmdr. Jeremy Paris told the Ventura County Star.

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Paris also told the paper that his son attended high school with Zernik and remembered him as a "great guy."

"The family is extremely grieved," added the official, who noted he'd been in contact with them.

In a statement, police said, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones."