Body of Montana hiker found nearly two months after she went missing

The 23-year-old Montana State University student from Idaho, named Tatum Morell, last contacted her family on 1 July using a Garmin InReach satellite communicator

Kelsie Sandoval
In New York
Monday 23 August 2021 23:00
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Hiker and dog stuck on cliff

A missing hiker’s body was found almost two months after she disappeared in the Montanamountains.

The 23-year-old Montana State University student from Idaho, named Tatum Morell, last contacted her family on 1 July using a Garmin InReach satellite communicator. The next day, she started a hike on the West Fork Trailhead in the Beartooth Mountains, in south-central Montana. Officials believe that she left her tent at Shadow Lake and didn’t return.

As an experienced hiker, Ms Mortell planned to summit five peaks over 12,000 feet, but when she didn’t return on 5 July, rescuers started a five-day rigorous search. By 10 July, the rescuers said she was most likely dead.

“Some people may wonder why my sister was out there by herself. I don’t think that is the right thing to ask. She was out there because she’s a strong adventurous, independent person,” Ms Morell’s brother said in a video statement on 10 July.

Despite the rescue team’s prediction, the team continued to search with the help of search dogs, aerial searches, and cell phone tracking.

On Sunday, officials said they recovered Ms Mortell’s body after climbers found her body below the Whitetail Couloir, a mountaineering route.

The rescuers suspect Ms Mortell was caught in a rockslide and died from injuries while she was climbing Whitetail Couloir. Even though the rescue teams had searched the area that she was found in numerous times, her body was hidden under piles of rocks and therefore was hard to find.

The rescue team transported the body to Red Lodge airport where she could be reunited with her family, Carbon County Sheriff Josh McQuillan said.

“After almost two months of extensive search efforts, we are relieved that she is able to be returned to her family,” Josh McQuillan said in Red Lodge Fire Rescue post.

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