The disappearance and, by now, presumed death of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. executive Steve Harrison has dominated local media for more than a week now—for understandable reasons. Harrison was widely known and played a large part in the success of Chico’s most famous business, and the manner of his disappearance was mysterious and puzzling in ways that were certain to elevate public interest.
The abandoned hybrid car left unlocked, the keys buried a few feet away from it, the empty prescription bottle found near the riverbank where his trail went cold, the lack of any note indicating he had taken his own life—all contributed to the strangeness that enveloped the story.
At this point we know little more than we did last week, when his car was found near the Sacramento River. Only one thing is clear, thanks to the several search dogs that followed his trail: He either fell in the river or he jumped in. Accident or suicide? We probably will never know which, and certainly should not force a conclusion.
We knew Harrison as a smart, friendly man who loved Chico and his work. So it was gratifying to see how hard his colleagues at Sierra Nevada, from owner Ken Grossman on down, tried to find him. Day after day, dozens of them were on the river, assisting search-and-rescue workers in looking for their friend. Harrison would have been touched by this evidence of their affection.