weather icon Clear

Pahrump man believed to be earthquake victim loved rural life

Updated July 10, 2019 - 11:02 pm

PAHRUMP — A tattered American flag flapped at the entrance to the rural property in the low foothills of the Pahrump Valley on Wednesday.

Piles of metal, rusted chains, wood and assorted antiquated clutter covered the yucca-dotted landscape around the trailer where 56-year-old Troy Ray lived. Just outside sat the red Jeep he’d had for longer than his sister could remember.

Ray loved working on his cars, his sister, Hilary Chorak, said.

The Pahrump man had moved to the plot of land about six months ago after spending the previous eight years elsewhere in Pahrump. It was quiet. He was happy there.

“He just thought he hit the jackpot,” Chorak said Wednesday. “He loved the view, he loved where he lived.”

But the life he cherished was cut short last week when Ray is believed to have possibly become the first fatality in a pair of earthquakes that struck the Mojave Desert last week, according to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office .

Ray was found dead underneath the Jeep on Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office said. He was working on it from below when investigators believe the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that shook the Mojave Desert on July 4 dislodged the car, crushing him, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said.

He was last seen alive on July 3 at a local gas station, and a neighbor who went to check on him discovered the body Tuesday afternoon, Wehrly said. Deputies noted he had securely propped up his Jeep and took extra precautions to stabilize it while he worked, she said.

“There wasn’t really any reason for it to fall that we could see,” Wehrly said.

First earthquake fatality?

Craig dePolo, with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, said he has studied the state’s seismological history dating back to 1857 and has found no recorded instance of an earthquake-related death.

If the earthquake did cause the Jeep to fall on top of Ray, “that would be the first death in Nevada that’s been recorded,” as well as the first fatality resulting from the recent quakes, dePolo said Wednesday.

The Sheriff’s Office is waiting for more information from the coroner for a better estimate of when Ray died and possible confirmation of whether the July 4 earthquake was responsible. “The state of the body” led deputies to believe the July 4 earthquake and not the one last Friday, one day later, was the likely culprit, Wehrly said.

Ray’s death appears to have been a freak accident, she said, but no other injuries or structural damage had been reported as a result of the quakes. The Friday quake is believed to have caused the southern Pahrump Valley to lose power for several hours, Wehrly said.

Deputies surveyed the valley, as well as Beatty and Tonopah, for damage after both instances, she said.

County officials and stakeholders are developing a comprehensive earthquake plan for residents throughout Nye County that would include civil engineering building studies, ideas on how to pump gas and evacuation plans, Wehrly said. The efforts were put in motion prior to this month, but the recent quakes have prompted officials to consider more “finite planning,” she said.

‘Crocodile Dundee’

On Wednesday, the door to the trailer where Ray lived was open. A pile of firewood sat in a bundle inside his modest doorway, and a pair of weathered boots sat perched upon a short stairway.

Old photographs of Ray and loved ones were affixed to a nearby wall, and a long jacket and a turquoise-adorned hat hung above a mirror.

Ray lived off the grid, and that was how he liked it, Chorak said. He never tried to impress people with his possessions. He didn’t want for anything and he kept the same friends he had since childhood, his sister said.

“My brother loved the things he had,” she said.

His red Jeep remained attached to the jack outside of his trailer. The front-passenger tire leaned up against what appeared to be a bathtub, and a black coffee mug and a tool rested on the Jeep right above where the wheel would have gone.

“He had been jacking (up) cars since he was 5 years old,” Chorak said.

She was floored that her brother died the way he did, partly because she’s a bit surprised he lived as long as he did.

Ray contracted scarlet fever as a kid, and there was a time as a child when he flew out of a car window in a crash, she said. He was then lost in the snow for more than a day, she added.

“I mean, this guy could’ve died 100 times,” Chorak said. “To be taken by an earthquake is just so sad.”

Ray felt at home in nature. It was common for him to be unreachable for days at a time, often heading out to the woods without a plan, she said.

He was an outdoorsman since the day he was born, Chorak said.

“He’s like Crocodile Dundee,” she said.

Roughly 20 years ago, Chorak recalled, she discovered a stench emanating from her garage. Inside, her husband at the time found a dead cat that fell apart as he went to touch it.

As was often the case when she didn’t know what to do, Chorak picked up the phone to dial her brother.

“Troy, there’s a dead cat in the boat,” she said. “It’s gross, get over here.”

“I’ll get my tools,” he replied. Click went the phone.

Chorak laughed as she told the story.

“He was an honest man and a good man,” she said.

His love of nature and the outdoors rubbed off on his children, daughter Megan McIntosh said. Her dad taught her how to fish, and they often went camping or fishing as a family, she said.

“That was our vacation,” said McIntosh, 24.

On one fishing trip as a child — she was probably about 13, she said — her dad poked fun at her for being so talkative. Dragonflies buzzed around them, and Ray told his daughter that they would come and shut her mouth if she didn’t stop talking.

“To this day, I’m still scared of dragonflies,” McIntosh said with a chuckle.

Ray wasn’t a loner, and he would do anything for his children and loved ones, she said. He simply relished the peace and quiet in a place where he could wake up with the sun and enjoy the outdoors, McIntosh said.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better dad,” she said.

In addition to McIntosh, Ray leaves behind two other adult children, Hope Ray, 23; and O’Ryan Ray, 26; as well as three grandchildren.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Setup underway for Area 51 Basecamp
Setup is underway at the Alien Research Center in Hiko ahead of their Area 51 Basecamp event. Setup will ramp up over the next 2 days, with event taking place Friday and Saturday. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Fire Department introduces its new therapy dog - VIDEO
Blaze, a 5-month-old black lab and retriever mix, was introduced as the Las Vegas Fire Department’s new therapy dog on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Gov. Steve Sisolak met Blaze at Fire Station 1. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
First case of vaping-related illness in Clark County
The Southern Nevada Health District is reporting the first confirmed case in Nevada of severe respiratory illness linked to e-cigarette products. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
“Storm Area 51” creator hosts event in Las Vegas instead of Rachel - VIDEO
Matty Roberts, the man behind the “Storm Area 51” movement has been abducted to now host an alien-themed event in downtown Las Vegas.
Dry conditions and winds gusting up to 40 mph bring a red flag warning
Dry conditions and winds gusting up to 40 mph bring a red flag warning for much of Monday by the National Weather Service. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Southern Nevada is in a West Nile virus hot zone - VIDEO
Southern Nevada, along with Central Arizona and Southern California, make up a “hot zone” that is reporting the highest number of mosquito-borne West Nile virus cases in the country. The Southern Nevada Health District recently reported 28 cases of West Nile virus in Clark County. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinkbox Doughnuts opens third store in Las Vegas area
Las Vegas-based Pinkbox Doughnuts, which opened its third store at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave., specializes in doughnuts such as the new Station Wagon, with Butterfinger; pink-velvet Pretty in Pink; and hybrid Glazed DoughCro Bites. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal, with image courtesy of Pinkbox Doughnuts
Some of the best dog parks in Las Vegas - VIDEO
When taking them on walks just isn’t enough, there are plenty of dog parks sprinkled throughout the Las Vegas Valley where dogs can play and owners can get to know the other pet parents in their area. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gail Hudson surprised with Teacher of the Year honor
Gail Hudson is surprised with recognition as Nevada's Teacher of the Year in the courtyard of Hummel Elementary on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Silver State Heath CEO Ryan Linden - VIDEO
Ryan Linden, Silver State Health’s CEO and executive director, talks about the focus of the organization, which is to provide affordable mental health and medical care for low-income and underserved Southern Nevadans. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan part of the Harlem Globetrotters
Scooter Christensen, who grew up in Las Vegas, will play with the Harlem Globetrotters at The Orleans in Las Vegas Sunday, Aug. 25. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Person struck and killed by a train near downtown Las Vegas - VIDEO
Police investigate after a person was struck and killed by a train near downtown Las Vegas near West Owens Avenue and Stocker Street on Wednesday. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Paul Browning Released from Ely State Prison - VIDEO
Paul Browning greets his mother, Betty Browning, after being released from Ely State Prison. Browning served 33 years on Nevada’s death row. (Rachel Crosby/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mother upset over her child's cornea donation being sent overseas - Video
Lindsey LiCari, the mother of Ayden and founder of Ayden's Army of Angels, is upset that her child's corneas were sent overseas and was told that she would be able to see her son's eyes again. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seven Magic Tires
“Seven Magic Tires,” created by Las Vegas artists Justin Favela and Ramiro Gomez, substitutes piles of tires for hefty boulders to recreate the scale model. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Tortoise Group of Las Vegas helps tortoises find homes
The Las Vegas Tortoise Group wants you to adopt a desert tortoise. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Warehouse fire in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas Fire Department PIO Nino Galloway gives an update on the fire at a warehouse on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Woman's memoir reflects on her fresh start in Las Vegas
Etta Baykara, 91, who plays accordion in a polka band, wrote a memoir that includes growing up on a farm to her move to California and then Las Vegas where she claims she is the happiest. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas pinball wizard Spittin' Jerry Kaczmarek
Jerry Kaczmarek, also known as “Spittin’" Jerry, talks about his days as a pinball hustler in Vegas in the 60’s and 70’s. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Behind the scenes at Broadacres Marketplace
Evelyn Sanchez, Broadacres Marketplace marketing and event director, talks about the offerings at the dynamic swap meet in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Teen talks about alleged sexual assault at Las Vegas grocery store
A 17-year old says she was groped and then sexually assaulted by a loss-prevention specialist at an Albertsons store in east Las Vegas. The subject's voice has been distorted to protect her identity. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson officials tried to lure Arizona Diamondbacks from Phoenix
Henderson officials tried to lure Arizona Diamondbacks from Phoenix with four potential stadium sites in mind, including one behind the future home of the future Raiders headquarters. Discussions between the team and the city stalled out, but Henderson still wants to attract professional sports to the area.(Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Grasshoppers swarm Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is swarmed by pallid-winged grashoppers on July 25, 2019. The grasshoppers have infested the Las Vegas valley after an unseasonably wet winter and spring, experts say.(@365inVegas/Twitter)
Aviators splash pad lets fans stay cool
Las Vegas Ballpark’s splash pad area is the perfect place to keep cool while enjoying the game. (Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Grasshoppers invade Las Vegas
The grasshoppers came out at night in northwest Las Vegas on Thursday. Lights at a local gas station attracted hundreds of the insects. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD superintendent says dean positions will not be eliminated
Clark County School District Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara discusses budget adjustments for the district after listening sessions with principals, teachers and support professionals. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson rain
Rain falls in Henderson on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
Monsoon season begins in the Las Vegas Valley
Rain dropped in Henderson on Wednesday morning as monsoon season begins in the Las Vegas area. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson Fire Department on checking back seats in the heat - Video
The Henderson Fire Department talks about double-checking car seats in the Las Vegas heat to remember children who may be in the car. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Take the Red E Bike tour of Red Rock Canyon
The Red E Bike tour of Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas starts at the visitors center for a three-hour, 17-mile ride. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steve Meriwether talks about his son, who was killed by a drunk driver
Retired Metro sergeant Steve Meriwether talks about his son, Garrett Meriwether, who was killed by a drunk driver. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Earthquake might have caused Pahrump man's death
Officials in Pahrump believe that the recent Fourth of July earthquake caused the death of resident Troy Ray as he was working on his car. If true, it will be the first earthquake-related death in the state in recorded history, according to research geologist Craig dePolo. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Earthquake-related death reported in Pahrump
The Nye County Sheriff's Office investigated a man's death reported on July 9 that may have been related to a Southern California earthquake that occurred on July 4 and was felt in Southern Nevada. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Fire in Arts District in downtown Las Vegas
Fire in Arts District in downtown Las Vegas on July 6, 2019. (Angus Kelly)
10th Anniversary of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the coming week. Director Marwan Sabbagh talks about what the center offers, what they've achieved and what is next in the work of degenerative brain disease. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
More tainted marijuana found in Las Vegas

The Nevada Department of Taxation on Monday issued a health notice after batches of marijuana sold from four Las Vegas dispensaries were found to have fungus, bacteria and high levels of mold and yeast.