The accident happened at about 1 a.m. Thursday at the Evans Creek off-road vehicle park, but officials did not learn about it until several hours later when a second man in the truck was able to free himself, walk into town and notify authorities.
The second man, a 21-year-old, told responders that he and his friend, the 23-year-old Auburn man, had been driving around the Evans Creek park after dark when a deer jumped in front of their truck. The truck then went off the road and down the steep embankment, rolling over about 25 times.
The 21-year-old told authorities that when the truck finally came to rest, his friend was unconscious, unresponsive and gasping for air.
The 21-year-old said he was able to get out of the vehicle, but lost his shoes in the process. He then walked barefoot for 15 miles until reaching the town of Carbonado, where he told a fire department crew about the crash.
The fire department notified East Pierce Fire & Rescue, which immediately dispatched a crew to the crash scene. They were guided there by the 21-year-old man, who by then was likely suffering from hypothermia, officials said.
But when the search-and-rescue crew arrived at the crash site, the 23-year-old Auburn man was no longer inside the truck.
At first rescuers were hopeful that he had regained consciousness and left to get help. But searchers then found a trail of blood leading from the truck to a river some distance away, where the 23-year-old was found dead.
The Pierce County medical examiner has requested that responders not disturb the body until investigators arrive on scene - meaning that the body may not be recovered until Friday.
The name of the victim was not immediately released.