The search for a 23-year-old hiker has now intensified after she went missing. Her last contact was made when she had a satellite call with her mother from the Montana mountains on July 1. Now, authorities fear she may be dead.
The missing hiker, Tatum Morell, was a Montana State University student from Idaho. During her hiking trip, she had planned to summit five 12,000-foot peaks on a solo trip, according to reports from the Billings Gazette.
“Tate was a fiercely independent, adventurous soul who loved the mountains,” her emotional family said in a video statement released on July 10. “We find some solace in knowing she passed in a place she loved.”
Now, authorities are ramping up their search for Morell after weeks of looking without finding a trace of the hiker.
On Thursday, Red Lodge Fire Rescue announced it had plans for an expanded search this weekend. The team planned to carry out multiple rescue and dog search teams focusing on specific areas.
According to Tom Kuntz, Red Lodge fire chief, rescuers believe Morell had not survived after their intense search. She had been due to return home by July 5.
Officials said she likely suffered a “tragic accident” and could not activate her rescue locator, per Fox News reports.
Search Ramps up for Missing Hiker After a Month of No Contact or Trace
“Some people may wonder why my sister was out there by herself,” said Josh Morell, her brother, in the video. “I don’t think that is the right thing to ask. She was out there because she’s a strong adventurous, independent person. She loved being out in the places where she was at.”
He added: “There wasn’t anything necessarily that she did wrong. It was just an accident, and accidents happen.”
On Saturday, the Red Lodge Fire Rescue posted an update about the search for the hiker on its website.
“Tatum’s family, the Carbon County Sheriff’s office, and Red Lodge Fire Rescue appreciate all of the efforts of the supporting agencies and organizations.”
The post went on to thank various groups and organizations that took part in the search.
They thanked agencies such as the Yellowstone County Sheriff, Gallatin County SAR, Park County WY SAR, Big Horn County SAR, the US Forest Service, the Army National Guard, Montana FWP, Palisades Ranches, Jackson Hole Search Dogs, Absaroka Search Dogs, Western Montana Search Dogs, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, MSU Police, Garmin InReach, Gaia GPS.
They also appreciate “the many people who volunteered time to search and support the effort and the many people who have offered their assistance.”
The family asks that people who wish to help to make donations in her honor at redlodgefire.com.