Yellowstone National Park Announces Death of 67-Year-Old Visitor, Active Search of Fellow Hiker Ongoing

by Courtney Blackann

In another harrowing tale of a hiker gone missing, the National Park Service announced Monday that a 67-year-old man was found dead in Yellowstone National Park.

Near Shoshone Lake, a region of the park in Wyoming, Mark O’Neill and his half-brother Kim Crumbo, 74, were camping. They set out on a four-day adventure, according to their family members. However, the two failed to return home Sunday, Sept. 19 as planned.

Worried relatives reported them missing to park officials. Search and rescue teams quickly searched the area. However, their efforts would meet a bad end. Looking along the east bank of the lake, park rangers discovered a vacant campsite. Besides several personal belongings, they also found a canoe and paddles.

It wasn’t long before officials found what they hoped to avoid – the body of Mark O’Neill. His half-brother was nowhere to be found.

Search and Rescue Underway

Now a 10-team crew is searching the area on foot to find the missing Crumbo. They’re also being assisted by the Grand Teton National Park interagency in the air.

O’Neill and Crumbo are former NPS employees. Crumbo was also a former Navy Seal.

“This incident remains under investigation. While we cannot comment further about the specifics of this investigation, we will provide updates when appropriate to do so. We ask the public to maintain distance from any law enforcement personnel, equipment, vehicles and their related activity for the safety of the public in this remote area and to protect the integrity of our work,” the NPS said in a press release.

Further, Shoshone Lake is the second largest lake in the park. Hikers often explore the area’s beauty, camping and canoeing. While the average temperature is just below 50 degrees, authorities said it would be unlikely to survive the water’s bitter cold for longer than 20 to 30 minutes.

Missing Hikers Increase in National Parks

With COVID-19 limiting life for many, national parks saw an influx of visitors in the past year. The number of missing hikers also increased.

Just last month a missing hiker from Virginia was found dead in Glacier National Park in Montana. She was identified as 34-year-old Jennifer Coleman.

Though she was an experienced hiker, Coleman was traveling alone. Weather conditions in the area were unknown. Her family last heard from Coleman Aug. 30 – and then they worried when she didn’t pick up her dogs from where she boarded them. Park officials were sent to do a wellness check on the woman who found her campsite.

An expanded search of the area confirmed the worst fears. Coleman’s body laid lifeless when it was found. It was in a part of the park with a rocky, steep slab of terrain.

An organization Coleman’s parents worked with, released a statement on Facebook.

“It is with heavy heart that we have to share this news. Jennifer Coleman…has been located deceased. Details surrounding this tragedy are not available at this time. Please respect the family as they process their grief & loss. Please also respect us with the foundation as we comfort the Coleman’s,” the post read. 

How Jennifer Coleman died remains unknown.