Pleasanton residents, businesses and officials continue to offer their help and support to friends and relatives of a man who disappeared earlier this month at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, after the official search effort was drastically scaled back several weeks ago.
Several weeks have passed since Philip Kreycik, 37, was last seen around 10:45 a.m. on July 10 at the Moller Ranch staging area, where the ultramarathon runner parked his car before presumably going for an hour-long run on the ridge. After not hearing from him, Kreycik's wife, Jen Yao called the police around 2 p.m.
It was the first of many communications so far between the Kreycik family and Pleasanton Police Department, and a relationship that has since grown to include a web of Pleasanton city officials.
On Wednesday, Mayor Karla Brown attended a special private meeting with Kreycik's family and PPD at Pleasanton City Hall. Brown called it "procedural" but emphasized the meeting was also intended to ensure both the Kreyciks and Yao "know we are here for the long haul" and that "we're not walking away from this."
In an exclusive interview with the Weekly immediately after the meeting, Kreycik's family said PPD was on site "almost moments after" Yao reported her husband missing. The responsiveness from law enforcement and other local officials has been much appreciated by the family, allowing them to concentrate solely on finding Philip over the past few weeks.
Though only an hour had passed since Yao expected to hear from Kreycik that afternoon, his mother Marcia Kreycik said PPD wasted no time acting.
"We felt there was a lot of respect for that, too, because it's been an hour since he hadn't contacted (Jen) when she expected him," Marcia said. "They respected her and they were there at the car, unlocking it, helping."
Kreycik's wallet and cellphone were found undisturbed inside his vehicle, and he was not recorded on any surveillance cameras near exit points in the park. Marcia told the Weekly that nothing about her son's disappearance makes 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 said. "That's the person he is; he's not just one to go off and leave everything he values behind."
For the initial search effort, 20 teams of law enforcement members and community volunteers searched the park on foot, horseback and mountain e-bikes. Canines, drones, fixed-wing aircraft, and heat-detecting technology were also used in some cases. The 50-square-mile search lasted about a week but has since been significantly decreased.
Within their own family, four of Marcia's six siblings have committed over a week each, being a part of the search for the PG&E energy analyst and father of two. Marcia said they still "give their advice and support over the phone every day," and gave high praise to Yao's parents, who have kept a low public profile.
"Her parents have been with us from day one," Marcia said "Without their assistance, we would be floundering. They have been so crucial and so supportive of dear Jen. They're a real treasure."
So far no one has reported seeing Kreycik on the trail the day he vanished, and no leads have turned up after the exhaustive search of the park as well as nearby areas like Sunol. Reports of someone heard calling for help in the Sunol canyon one evening turned into dead ends.
Nonetheless, Philip's father Keith Kreycik said he and his family have been "very impressed with the quality of what's been done" by PPD.
"They've helped explain the process, and it's been a real positive experience to work with people with the high degree of professionalism they exhibit to us," Keith said.
Before his son went missing, Keith and his family had no personal ties to the Pleasanton community. During such a difficult time, the Kreyciks called it "a very pleasant surprise to find out what a wonderful, pleasant town this is."
Sandy Schneider, founder of the Pleasanton Community page on Facebook, was present on Wednesday to offer her support and said hundreds of residents have helped over the past few weeks, including a group of Donlon Elementary School kids who set up a lemonade stand to raise money and buy breakfast for search and rescue volunteers.
Moving into action was "the only right answer" when Schneider first heard about Philip's disappearance. "And I knew I had all these resources where I could make that phone call. If I can help, then I'm going to help," she said.
Schneider continued, "To harness the goodwill of what is Pleasanton, and a culture that is the average family here in Pleasanton, to focus them on helping a family that is needing our arms around them during this hard time, that's what our community has done."
Using the extensive local network of over 6,000 members on the Pleasanton Community page, Schneider and other residents acquired assistance from a variety of sources including local businesses that provided food, water and other items for volunteers.
"The businesses went above and beyond their regular corporate protocols to say 'Absolutely, I'll do it...because you need it right now,'" Schneider said. "People are reaching out saying 'where else can we help.'"
The response from a town of unfamiliar faces has "been just astonishing to me, the warmth that we've felt from the community, the outpouring of support," Keith Kreycik said.
As of Friday, the search and rescue team's home base was still at Foothill High School but there are tentative plans to relocate to the Alameda County Fairgrounds, where the effort will continue for the foreseeable future.
"One of the things we did today is we're working on another site because...students are going back to school," Brown said. "We're looking for a site to relocate them and I'm working with Supervisor Nate Miley, as well as the city manager's office."
The fairgrounds fits the team's criteria as "a place that meets their needs, but it's local," according to Brown.
"The Senior Center already has activities planned there, so we're trying to find something that's open seven days a week, 24 hours a day -- they're not giving up," Brown added.
Mostly silent during the interview but visibly distraught, Yao had little to say about her current state other than she's been "trying to focus on the present, on the task at hand."
"Like right now, I'm talking to a reporter and that's all I'm doing right now. We try to take care of each other, that's how we can continue the search," Yao said.
Yao added that her husband is 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.
Though they have received a lot of interest from people in the community to search the park, the Kreyciks said volunteers are not currently being dispatched but did implore residents to keep a close eye out, as "just walking on the hiking trails doesn't mean you're seeing everything."
"We're also aware that many people have separated themselves from local news, from national news during this time of COVID," Marcia Kreycik said, and asked residents to share information about Philip with people who may not be online.
Keith Kreycik said he is still hopeful that the family will reunite with Philip. To that end, PPD has continued to follow up on tips and is asking residents and local businesses near the park for any security camera footage from the last 30 days that may offer clues on Kreycik's whereabouts.
"If he's in the community and he made it out of the park, then there's someone in the community, we're certain that someone is helping him get recovered, because we think he might have injured himself," Kreycik said. "If that's the case, then we're convinced he'll show up sooner or later. And if he's still in the park, then we'll find him -- it's just a matter of time."
Kreycik is described as a white male, with a thin build, brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing shorts, a watch, socks and grey Saucony sneakers. He is an experienced long-distance runner with no known health conditions.
A Facebook page created by volunteers and dedicated to the search for Kreycik remains active, and Pleasanton police have set up a special tip line and email address for information about Kreycik's disappearance. Anyone with information about Kreycik's whereabouts is asked to contact Pleasanton police at 931-5107 or [email protected]