Ashes of father lost on Rainier 30 years ago now lost in mail

Associated Press

SEATTLE — It was bad enough when the small plane carrying Terry Frye’s father vanished 30 years ago in a snowstorm.

In 1992, the wreckage of the Piper Cherokee was spotted by hikers on Mount Rainier. Last September, after an unusually dry year, the remains of her father, Kenneth Frye, 62, a Sacramento, Calif., car dealer, and two business associates were recovered.

Now the ashes of her father have been lost in the mail.

"I don’t know if I’ll ever get him back," Frye, 52, of Sacramento said Sunday in a telephone interview.

Kenneth Frye, pilot William Steitz of Fresno, Calif., and a second passenger Dean Bride, of Puyallup, died on Jan. 13, 1972, when the plane slammed into the Cowlitz Glacier on a flight from Pasco to Seattle.

The trio had met at an auto auction in Pasco. Bride and Frye accepted a ride back to Seattle with Steitz.

Mount Rainier National Park rangers recovered the remains of the three men last fall, and Frye’s remains almost wound up in an unmarked grave because officials had trouble locating relatives.

Terry Frye learned of the discovery in October and arranged with Oakwood Hill Funeral Chapel in Tacoma to have her father’s remains cremated, placed in an urn and shipped to Sacramento on Dec. 3.

"I’ve missed him for a long time," Terry Frye said. "You have no ending to the story, no conclusion."

The urn vanished after being placed in a mail container to be flown to San Francisco from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said Tom Montgomery, a spokesman for the postal inspectors’ office

"We don’t know what happened," Montgomery said. "We know it got as far as the facility at Sea-Tac, and that’s it."

Frye and her husband visited Tacoma last week in a fruitless attempt to locate the urn.

"Everyone was very nice," she said, "but I’m not sure how you could overlook a big mail container."

Montgomery said small registered-mail items typically are packed in a sealed container with the code number registered.

When such a container is lost, he said, it usually was not unloaded at its destination and went elsewhere by error. A few have been mistakenly left among stacks of empty bins at a postal center.

Copyright ©2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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