Stanford biology professor found after days-long manhunt in Washington National Park

June 13, 2023, 1:04 p.m.

On Saturday, June 10, Stanford professor of biology Hunter Fraser was found following an extensive manhunt effort that included 90 search and rescue personnel, according to a press release from the National Parks Service.

While missing, Fraser was scheduled to appear on June 9 for a preliminary examination in Santa Clara County Superior Court after being charged with a domestic violence felony by prosecutors in November 2022. Fraser was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of inflicting corporal injury, which he pleaded not guilty to in September before the charges were raised to a felony level in November. 

In a statement to The Daily, Fraser wrote “I did not miss the preliminary hearing since it was postponed before I was reported missing.”

In a statement to the Mercury News, Stephenson said the preliminary hearing setting date has been rescheduled to June 28. The Daily has reached out to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and Tessa Stephenson, the deputy district attorney assigned to the case about the timing of the postponement of the hearing.

The charges against Fraser stemmed from a July 4, 2022 incident, in which Fraser allegedly threw a woman, who was identified as his girlfriend, on the ground and slammed a door into her while playing a game with her and Fraser’s daughter, according to a Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) Incident Report. The charges were later raised to a felony after the County District Attorney learned that the woman had sustained serious injuries and suffered fractured ribs from the assault. The Daily is aware of the identity of the woman but is withholding it for her safety.

“As I’ve said before, the allegations against me are untrue and I look forward to sharing the truth in court,” wrote Fraser. 

The Daily has also reached out to Joshua Bentley, Fraser’s lawyer, about the case. 

Fraser was self-rescued with the assistance of other hikers along the Dosewallips River Trail and was driven to Quilcene, Washington, where he was greeted by his family, park personnel and medical responders. According to National Park Services (NPS), he was in Clallam County, Wash. on a hike in Olympic National Park on Monday, June 5. 

In a statement to The Daily, Fraser wrote that he had planned a 40-mile solo hike on June 5 at Olympic National Park and planned to return to Seattle by Wednesday, June 7. 

“On June 6th I slipped on a snowy slope, hit my head, and became disoriented and lost. I found myself deep in the wilderness, far from any trail,” Fraser wrote. 

At the time of his disappearance, Joy Leighton, Senior Director of Public Relations for the School of Humanities and Sciences, wrote in a statement to The Daily that “We are hoping for his safe return.” 

According to the Mercury News, his family had last communicated with him through text on Tuesday morning, and on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m., Olympic National Park notified the CCSO that he was overdue. His vehicle was found near Deer Ridge Trail (#836) where he had originally parked.

Fraser was five days into his hike, and three days overdue, when he says he reached a road and found help from two other hikers that provided him with food and drove him to the nearest ranger station. Since then, he says he has been recuperating with family. 

“I am flooded with gratitude. I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for the many people and organizations who helped search for me, including the heroic efforts of the National Park Service, Coast Guard, and local volunteers,” he wrote. 

In a news release on June 9, the NPS reported that the Olympic National Park had dispatched the Olympic National Park Search and Rescue, Olympic Mountain Rescue, Kitsap Explorer Search and Rescue, Jefferson Search and Rescue, Pierce County Search and Rescue, and dog teams from Kitsap, Pierce, and Mason Counties to search for Fraser. 

In a statement after Fraser’s rescue, Leighton wrote, “We are relieved and happy that Hunter has returned safely.”

The Daily also reached out to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. 

Judy N. Liu '26 is the Academics desk editor for News and staff writer at The Daily.

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