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Hat leads officials to find body of missing 76-year-old man

Authorities in California say a hat alerted them to the discovery of a 76-year-old man who died after falling from a 50-foot cliff.

Gregory Noyes, of Point Arena, had been missing for two days when deputies found his body on rocks under the cliff edge at the Jug Handle State Wildlife Refuge on Friday, May 17, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

California State Parks officers found Noyes’ vehicle — which had been at the location south of Fort Bragg for several days — in the parking lot of the popular nature area, the sheriff’s office said.

After a “hasteful search” of the park, officers found a large-brimmed hat on the edge of the cliff, and Noyes’ body was subsequently found underneath.

After descending the cliff, sheriff’s deputies determined the man had died after suffering serious injuries from the fall.

He was identified through photographs and his California driver’s license, authorities said.

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Noyes was reported missing on May 15 after leaving for Marin County on May 12, according to the sheriff’s office.

Authorities believe Noyes’ death was an accident, with no evidence of foul play.

The state park has an Ecological Staircase Trail, which offers a tour of the “geologic updraft” from the coast to the Pygmy Forest, two and a half miles inland.

The park’s operators have warned hikers and others to enjoy the unique ecological environment but “stay away from the cliff edges,” which “can be unstable and crumble underfoot.”

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center at 707-463-4086.