The remains of Bill Fitzpatrick, who worked for almost 15 years at Olympic and North Cascades national parks, were found in April, the National Park Service reported Friday.
The wreckage of the plane that he was flying was found in Cameroon.
Fitzpatrick was a ranger and pilot for approximately 25 years at park units including Gates of the Arctic National Park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area-Presidio. He worked on trail crews at Olympic from 1981-87, and had been a district ranger at Stehekin in North Cascades National Park Service Complex while working there from 2003-11.
More recently, he worked at two parks in Africa — Outamba-Kilimi National Park and Odzala-Kokoua National Park.
Fitzpatrick disappeared on a flight in West Africa on June 22, 2014. He was flying a new Cessna 172 that had recently arrived in Africa, headed to Congo for use in efforts to stop elephant poaching.
His remains were found by hunters in the west African nation, at a crash site in mountainous terrain where the plane went down, according to a Park Service news release.
“Bill’s plane was lost nearly 10 months ago, and this brings some degree of closure for our family,’ his brother, Ken Fitzpatrick, said in the release. “This flight was not a singular trip for Bill; it was part of a lifelong commitment to the parks, the Peace Corps, and conservation in general across both Africa and the United States.”
Fitzpatrick is survived by his wife, Paula, and their three children, Mary, Matthew, and Cody, who live in Chelan.
During his Park Service career, Fitzpatrick received the Exemplary Act Award for his assistance in the capture of three gunmen in 2000 during an 18-hour gunfight in Death Valley, California. The gunman shot at, and hit his plane three times as he flew for more than 10 hours circling their location while ground troops moved in for the arrest, according to a news release.