Julien Hug, who had vied for Jillian Harris’s love on Season 5 of The Bachelorette, was found dead off a highway in the Southern California desert.
The San Diego man, 35, was on his way to help his family manage their newest restaurant in Palm Desert, Calif., when he went missing Monday, his father, Bertrand Hug, tells KGTV San Diego.
“I am completely heartbroken for the Hug family, and my whole heart goes out to them today as they mourn a precious life that ended far too soon,” Harris said in a statement. “It s very difficult to find the words to express my condolences, but I will always remember Julien s gentle demeanor and kind heart, which will be sadly missed.”
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Melissa Nieburger confirms that the body of a “deceased male adult” was found at 11 a.m. Wednesday in an unincorporated area called Pinyon Pines.
“At this time, we’re not releasing the name of person, pending identification by the coroner,” she tells PEOPLE. “As for the manner of death, that will be released pending the result of the autopsy.”
But a Hug family spokesperson late Wednesday confirmed to KGTV that the body was indeed the former Bachelorette contestant’s.
Hug, a tall hunky brunette, described himself on the show as an adventurer. “The sense of freedom that comes from skydiving is a big thrill,” he said on the Season 5 opener, which showed him jumping out of a plane and cruising in a flashy red sports car.
Even though Hug only made it to Week 2 of eliminations, he said he felt like he had a connection with Harris. “Jillian and Julien together forever,” he said on the show. “That sounds great.”
• Reporting by KEN LEE and CYNTHIA WANG