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Body of missing hiker recovered

Billings man apparently fell in canyon

The remains of a missing Billings man were found Saturday morning in the Clarks Fork Canyon, three weeks after he was last seen.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said it appeared Jason Shefelbine, 32, had fallen between 75 and 100 feet into a steep ravine near the Clarks Fork River.

“Although it’s not the end we hope for, it certainly gives us closure,” Steward said, adding that it would give the family the chance to grieve and move on.

He said even just a little bit of moisture can make the canyon rock slippery and dangerous.

“It’s a treacherous area and it takes one slip, and unfortunately that might have cost him (Shefelbine) his life here,” Steward said.

An official cause of death had not been determined as of press time.

A friend and family members found his body about 9 a.m. Saturday after spending the night in the Clarks Fork Canyon, Steward said.

The sheriff had suspended a Park County Search and Rescue hunt for the man on Oct. 15, after 12 days of searching turned up no sign of Shefelbine and bad weather set in. Search and rescue members were en route to the area Saturday morning, planning to resume the search, when they got the news that Shefelbine’s body had been found, the sheriff said.

The location was within the search area, a spot that teams had come pretty close to and where a kayaking team and dog teams had smelled a strong odor, Steward said. The problem was that the rugged area has so many hidden ledges and hard-to-see places, he said.

Search and rescue members and other volunteers were able to get Shefelbine’s body out of the canyon about 6 p.m. Saturday, Steward said.

Shefelbine was reportedly an experienced outdoorsman and was headed to the Clarks Fork Canyon to do some fishing on Saturday, Oct. 1.

His vehicle was found on the night of Tuesday, Oct. 4, starting the 12-day search that included dogs, airplanes, helicopters, search and rescue members from Park and Sublette counties and other volunteers. Information from a purported psychic was also passed along to search leaders, but Steward said the prediction turned out to be inaccurate and had nothing to do with finding Shefelbine’s body.

He was found a little more than two miles miles from his vehicle, parked near Antelope Butte.

Steward praised the work of the unpaid county search and rescue members over the course of the search and the efforts of the other volunteers, like Shefelbine’s friends and family.

“I gotta thank all of them for pulling together,” Steward said.

He said the cost of the search, thanks in large part to the volunteer efforts, was likely under $3,000 or $4,000, and the county will seek reimbursement from the state.

Steward recommends that folks heading into the backcountry travel with other people and let others know where they’re going.

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