Nearly three years ago Candace May Kellie went missing in Yellowstone National Park after crashing her SUV near Tower Junction. Now DNA tests have identified some of her remains.
A concessions employee at Roosevelt Lodge, Ms. Kellie was last seen driving away from the employee housing area in the early morning hours of June 29, 2005. While rangers searched for the 19-year-old woman from Belgrade, Montana, after finding her rig in the Yellowstone River, she never was found.
Investigators believe Ms. Kellie was eastbound when her vehicle struck an embankment on the right side of the road, then crossed to the left side and went over an embankment, before dropping more than 100 feet into the river. The vehicle apparently was swept downstream a short distance before coming to rest in shallow water about 50 feet from the river bank. The heavily damaged vehicle was found to be unoccupied when pulled from the river. Despite an extensive search, no sign of the missing woman was found.
This past September, anglers discovered a human skull in the Yellowstone River upstream from the town of Gardiner, Montana. A search of the area by park rangers and archaeologists failed to turn up any additional physical evidence.
When the Wyoming State Crime Lab was unable to identify the remains using dental records, the skull was sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. DNA tests were conducted at state-of-the-art facilities at the university’s Center for Human Identification. Based on the strength of the test results, investigators are convinced the remains are those of the missing young woman.
In another case of a missing person, no recovery has been made of Luke Sanburg. The 13-year-old Boy Scout from Helena, Montana, fell into the Yellowstone River just five days before Candace Kellie went missing.
Recent warm temperatures following a heavy winter snowfall means the park’s rivers and streams are running near peak levels. Visitors are urged to be careful around these swollen, dangerous waterways.