Shoshone Lake

The sun rises over Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park in 2015. A search-and-rescue operation is underway for a canoer who went missing after an accident killed the missing man’s half-brother.

Deep in the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park, rangers have been searching for a 74-year-old Utah resident in and around Shoshone Lake, where the missing man’s canoeing partner has been found dead, likely from drowning.

A family member on Sunday reported to park officials that the two men, who were half-brothers, were overdue from their four-night backcountry paddle trip to the remote lake, which is in the southwest portion of the park and accessed via Lewis Lake. Yellowstone rangers hiked in the same day and found a vacant campsite with gear on the south side of the lake. They also discovered a canoe in the water on the east shore of the lake in addition to a paddle, PFD and other personal belongings that were found up on dry ground.

The next morning, on Monday, search-and-rescue crews found the body of Mark O’Neil, 67, from Chimacum, Washington, along the east shore of Shoshone Lake.

“The cause of death has not been determined, but it is likely to be by drowning,” Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said.

The missing man is Kim Crumbo, 74, from Ogden, Utah. Warthin said the search-and-rescue operation is ongoing, and she did not speculate on what might have caused the lethal accident.

As of Tuesday a 10-person crew continued to search the Shoshone Lake area on foot. Grand Teton National Park’s interagency helicopter was also assisting and conducting an aerial search.

Both O’Neill and Crumbo are National Park Service retirees, and Crumbo is a former Navy Seal. No more information was about the search-and-rescue operation was available on Tuesday. Efforts by foot, air and boat will continue on Wednesday, Warthin said.

Believed to be the largest lake in the Lower 48 not accessible by a road, Shoshone Lake is a popular destination for experienced paddlers who access its waters by paddling Lewis Lake to the Lewis River, which connects the two lakes. Shoshone Lake plunges to 205 feet deep and spans 8,050 acres; the only larger lake in the park is the massive Yellowstone Lake.

Shoshone Lake has killed before, according to newspaper records, including in 2007 when two Idaho men became victims to wind gusts and waves. In June 2002, 39-year-old David Graham and his 12-year-old son, Quinn, died after capsizing into water that was just 40 degrees. Yellowstone ranger Ryan Weltman was killed in the backcountry lake in 1994 after high winds overturned his kayak. Shoshone Lake killed before that in 1958, when Casper resident Lee Burrows drowned. His surviving boatmate, William Keating, was reportedly so shocked from exposure to the cold water he could not tell Yellowstone rangers what happened for several hours.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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