A missing Wisconsin couple last seen leaving the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29 has been found alive and well.
Mark and Kristine Wathke from Cornell, Wisc., were found this morning in their vehicle by a local rancher on the Beartooth Highway (U.S. Highway 212) near Long Lake. The car had become stuck in heavy snow.
After hearing reports of the missing couple, Troy Barnett, owner of the K Bar Z Guest Ranch took it upon himself to search for the missing couple on snowmobile. He located them at 8:30 a.m., cold and hungry but otherwise unharmed.
Barnett said that the couple had plenty of fuel in their car and was therefore able to start the engine periodically to keep warm. They also had plenty of water and a limited amount of food. The missing couple had hotel reservations in Miles City, Mont., for Tuesday night, but was listed by the hotel as a “no show.”
Last contact with the couple was from within the park on the 29th when they contacted their family to let them know they would be home on October 30th. There had been no further cell phone activity and the couple had not been heard from or seen since.
The Beartooth Highway which usually closes for the season in mid-October has been closed this year since mid-September due to weather-related hazardous driving conditions. The highway is posted as being closed.
Sheriff Scott Steward praised Mr. Barnett for his self-less concern for the couple.
“Residents in this area often volunteer their time and resources to assist in rescue operations, said Sheriff Steward. “Mr. Barnett’s actions in this instance possibly saved this couple from serious harm. I commend him for his unselfishness.”
The following was released by the Park County Sheriff's office Sunday morning:
The Park County Search and Rescue Unit is currently searching for a missing Wisconsin couple that was last seen leaving the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
Mark and Kristine Wathke from Cornell, Wisc., had hotel reservations in Miles City, Mont., for Tuesday night, but were listed by the hotel as a “no show.” Last contact with the couple was from within Yellowstone on the 29th when they contacted their family to let them know they would be home on Oct. 30th. There has been no further cell phone activity and the couple has not been heard from or seen since.
Search and Rescue personnel are currently performing a detailed highway search of Wyoming highways 212, 296, 295 and 120 in Park County. A highway search involves rescue personnel not only driving the highways but also physically searching ravines and cliffs along the roadways. They are being assisted by a Search and Rescue aircraft.
They were driving a silver 2012 Kia Forte with Wisconsin license plates 545VHH.
If you have had contact or recall seeing the vehicle or its occupants, please contact the Park County Sheriff’s Office at 307-527-8700.