Missing hiker found dead near Earthquake Lake - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Missing hiker found dead near Earthquake Lake

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Photo courtesy of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office. Photo courtesy of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.

The body of a hiker who failed to return from a hike in the Beaver Creek area near Earthquake Lake was found Tuesday.

After a two-and-a-half day search, the hiker, Mike Petersen, 42, of Bismarck, N.D. was found a quarter mile south of the confluence of Beaver and West Fork Creeks.  

In a press release, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin commented that in the last few weeks water tragedies are all too common.  

“Especially this time of year, when water levels are high,” Gootkin said. “Extra caution around water is needed.”

A Gallatin County Sheriff’s Coroner will determine cause and manner of death.

Petersen was reported missing at approximately 10 p.m. on Sunday after he failed to return to a designated rendezvous pick-up point.

Petersen reportedly had been in the Beaver Creek area several times over the past four months, knew the area and had backcountry experience.

He left on his hike with enough survival equipment to stay in the forest and signal for help.  

Initial search activity included personnel from the West Yellowstone division of Gallatin County Search & Rescue, Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District, Air Methods helicopter and Two Bear Air Rescue Helicopter from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.  

Air Methods conducted an initial search by air until rainy weather forced them to land. Two Bear Air picked up the air search a couple of hours later using Forward Looking Infrared Radar throughout the early morning hours of Monday.  

Air efforts then continued throughout Monday with Two Bear Air, while they also assisted in moving ground resources into the designated search zone.

Monday’s ground search efforts consisted of 25 individuals from Gallatin County Search & Rescue crews from West Yellowstone, Big Sky, and the Gallatin Valley; National Forest Service Personnel, Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District, and three K-9 dog search teams.

Tuesday’s continued search efforts involved the same personnel from Monday with additional air resources from Central Helicopter, and ground teams from Madison County SAR, Ruby Valley SAR, and Department of Livestock. The total ground personnel was in excess of 40 individuals.

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