LIVINGSTON — When 20-year-old New Jersey native Zach Krull went missing in the mountains of Washington State in April, his family members knew he'd been doing what he loved. But they had no answers about where he was, or what had happened.

Zach  Krull's father, Stewart, confirmed over the weekend that his son's body had been found almost three months to the day since the family last spoke to him, and after several search crews were unable to find the body in heavy snowfall.

"We know that it is Zachary even though the medical examination has not taken place because of all the equipment that was around him when they found him," Stewart Krull told New Jersey 101.5. "It's all his."

In April, Krull said, his son was getting ready to start studying at Evergreen State College when he decided to hike the mountains around the campus. The last time Krull spoke to his son was April 8, and on April 11 Zach was officially reported missing, triggering a massive search effort despite inclement weather.

Krull said searchers were also on the wrong track when it came to finding Zach. He said it wasn't until he remotely accessed a hiking app with maps on his son's phone that he figured out that Zach might have been in a different location than originally thought.

"There is no connection between the wagon wheel trail (searchers were focusing on) and where he was found," he said. "That ended up being a red herring."

"It wouldn't have mattered in terms of finding him alive. All the time they went searching for him they were searching in an area where he wasn't," Krull said.

Calling the past three months a "roller coaster," Krull said in the time since Zach went missing, family members accepted that he was dead, and went so far as to hold a memorial service at their temple.

"We knew we had to accept that he was gone and we wanted to honor him and grieve with our family and friends," he said. "It gave us all a chance just to exhale and just to gather around and bid him goodbye."

Zach's mother, Hallie, said the family has been "so sad and worried," wondering what happened to their son.

"It's been so incredibly painful to not know what happened to him," Hallie Krull said. "And until you know, there's still hope, no matter how unrealistic it is."

With his family in New Jersey and the search for his son on the other side of the country, Stewart Krull said, the support of people of Washington was important.

"There's an incredible community out there in Washington," he said. "When somebody goes missing, all these people work together and collaborate on what to do. There's some great machinery out west working on our behalf."

Hallie Krull said even with the help from the people in Washington, it is still a difficult time for the family.

"It's devastating to know that it's real, that it's final, that there's proof that we'll never see him again," she said.

Even with knowing what happened to their son, the Krulls said, it is difficult to know that there are other families still left not knowing what happened to their loved ones.

"We know how lucky we are to have answers when people we know and care about now are still searching for it," Stewart Krull said. "Personally, just to understand what happened to him as much as we possibly can is such a help to me."

While the news confirms their worst fears about their son's fate, Stewart Krull said the family will remember how important being in nature was to Zach.

"For us to know how he thought, and the exuberance and excitement that he had when it came to hiking, for us to know that at least that was his final resting place, that helps," he said. "To know that we can go out there and walk that same trail, and go to that same spot that was the last thing he ever saw means so much that we can write that into his story, and kind of have a bookend to his life, and from this point on to celebrate his love of the outdoors and try to continue his passion for sharing that enthusiasm and his mission for making sure that everyone respects the environment and does what they can to help preserve it."

Stewart Krull said while his son will not be coming home, there has been some good to come out of the past few months.

"It has been so eye-opening just to see how people care when there's an emergency like this and how an entire community can galvanize around a person that's gone missing," he said. "It restores your faith in your fellow man and your neighbors and strangers and everyone else."

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