RED LODGE — On Sunday, rescue personnel transported the body of missing hiker Tatum Morell, 23, from the Beartooth Mountains to the Red Lodge Airport after a search that started about seven weeks ago, Carbon County Sheriff Josh McQuillan said.
A group of hikers located Morell's body on Saturday in the White Tail Peak area after first noticing a piece of hiking equipment on the trail. McQuillan said the hikers were aware of the search efforts and a closer look of the area revealed Morell's body beneath what appeared to be a rock slide in an area that had been previously searched.
"Finding her, especially buried in that rockslide answered a lot of questions as to why our ground crews could find her, why helicopters couldn’t find her, and even why search dogs couldn’t find her. That helps us a lot with putting the pieces of the puzzle together," said Jon Trapp, the assistant chief with Red Lodge Fire Rescue.
The hikers provided authorities with GPS coordinates and McQuillan said they confirmed the location of the body on Sunday morning in a helicopter owned by the Yellowstone County Sheriff's office.
Two Bear Air transported Morell's body from the mountains to the Red Lodge Airport on Sunday afternoon.
Morell was from Idaho and was a recent graduate of Montana State University. She had been missing since July 1 and she contacted family from a campsite before a planned hike to several peaks in the area of the West Fork of Rock Creek.
An intensive search effort was launched July 5, but authorities announced July 10 that their efforts would be scaled back after determining it was unlikely that Morell was still alive.
Multiple search and rescue and law enforcement agencies, dog teams, helicopters, ground search teams and other means were used to try and locate Morell in the rugged, rocky terrain of the Beartooth Mountains.