Body Recovered, Half-Brother Sought Around Yellowstone Lake

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Rescue crews in Yellowstone National Park recovered the body of a 67-year-old Washington state man and searched around a lake Tuesday for his half-brother after the pair failed to return from a backcountry canoe trip.

A 10-person ground crew was walking the shoreline of Shoshone Lake looking for Kim Crumbo, a 74-year-old former Navy SEAL from Ogden, Utah, Yellowstone officials said. A helicopter from nearby Grand Teton National Park was helping in the effort.

Rescuers found the body of Mark O'Neill of Chimacum, Washington, on Monday along the eastern shore, where a canoe, paddle, flotation device and other items were found Sunday. A vacant campsite was found on the south side of the lake.

A family member reported the two experienced boaters and former National Park Service employees overdue from their four-night trip on Sunday.

O'Neill likely drowned, but an official cause of death has not been determined, Yellowstone spokesperson Morgan Warthin said.

Shoshone Lake covers 13 square miles (33 square kilometer) and has an average temperature of around 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 Celsius), with survival time estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes in such cold water, officials said. The lake also can be subject to high winds and sudden storms.

Crumbo was a Navy SEAL who served two tours in Vietnam and worked for decades at Grand Canyon National Park as a river ranger and wilderness coordinator. O’Neill also worked at the park as a river and patrol ranger, park officials said.

Well before Crumbo retired from the Grand Canyon, in 1996 he co-founded the conservation group Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, which later merged with another group to form Wild Arizona. Crumbo worked to protect and restore native species, wild places and ecosystems, said his colleague Kelly Burke, who considers him family.

She said people who know Crumbo have been reconnecting over his disappearance “to hold each other up and put that energy in leaving the door open for him to walk back in."

“It’s Kim Crumbo, after all,” she said. “He’s a monumental hero and legend of a man. We can’t bring ourselves to believe he wouldn’t emerge from this.”

Drowning is one of the top causes of death in Yellowstone, behind car and snowmobile accidents and illness, park historian Lee Whittlesey wrote in his book “Death in Yellowstone.”

Included among those deaths were two elderly canoeists from Idaho who capsized while fishing on Lake Shoshone in 2007 and drowned. An Idaho man and his 12-year-old son drowned during a camping trip on the lake in 2002 after their canoe apparently overturned.

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This story has been corrected to show that Crumbo founded the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council in 1996, not 1966.