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July 18, 2013 1:35 pm

Hiker, angler die in separate Yellowstone incidents

Written by Tom Lawrence

Two people died in separate incidents in Yellowstone National Park this week.

On Thursday morning, searchers discovered the body of a man who went on a solo hike to a mountain peak in northwest Yellowstone Tuesday and failed to return, according to a Yellowstone National Park news release.

Joseph Austin Parker, 23, of Valdosta, Ga., was reported missing by a friend about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and a search was initiated by the National Park Service.

The last contact with Parker was a cell phone call he made to friends about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Parker told his friends he was below the summit of Electric Peak, and because of nearby lightning, he was starting to descend the mountain.

An aerial search by both airplane and helicopter and ground search by teams in four-wheel drive vehicles, on horseback and on foot did not turn up any clues to Parker's whereabouts Wednesday. Parker's body was discovered below the summit of Electric Peak shortly after the search resumed Thursday morning.

Electric Peak is a nearly 11,000 foot mountain in the Gallatin Range, located west of Gardiner, Mont., in the northwest portion of Yellowstone National Park. The cause of death is under investigation. Parker was working at a Gardiner business.

The National Park Service worked closely with a variety of agencies and landowners, including the Park County, Montana, Sheriff's Office, in conducting the search.

On Wednesday, a 73-year-old man from southwest Montana died after losing his footing while fishing, according to a park release.

The man, who has not been identified, was fishing in the Yellowstone River near the Nez Perce picnic ground in the Mud Volcano area when witnesses say he lost his footing in chest-deep water while attempting to cross the river. He was carried approximately 200 yards downstream in the swift current, the release stated.

Another visitor ran downstream and pulled the unconscious man ashore and initiated CPR. Park rangers and medical staff were notified and responded but were unable to revive the victim.

The cause of death remains under investigation, and his name was being withheld Thursday pending completion of notification of family members.

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