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Contact: Norma Sosa, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park announced today that a search has begun for a backpacker who is three days overdue in a lengthy and arduous planned hike in Glacier National Park’s backcountry.
The hiker is identified as Yi-Jien Hwa, 27 years old and a resident of Kentucky and Malaysia. He is described as 6 feet, 1 inch in height and about 170 pounds in weight. He is believed to be hiking alone and carrying a blue Kelty backpack and trekking poles, along with other equipment, and he might be wearing dark-colored clothing of blue, black, or green.
Mr. Hwa was last seen at St. Mary Visitor Center on August 11th, the first day of his planned hike. The hike was to end on August 18th at Kintla Lake. His car has been found in the Logan Pass Visitor Center parking lot, officials said.
Patrick Suddath, the Incident Commander, said that according to a backcountry permit filed with the Park, Mr. Hwa’s path was to include the Floral Park area, Gunsight Pass trail, Highline trail to Goat Haunt, and Goat Haunt to Kintla Lake. Park officials said after an initial search on Wednesday that other hikers in the areas of Mr. Hwa’s planned itinerary had not seen him.
“The National Park Service is very concerned about the safety and condition of Mr. Hwa, and we are doing everything possible to locate him,” Suddath said. “We are exploring every possible lead, and we are ruling nothing out.”
Park officials ask that anyone who has any information about Mr. Hwa or who might have seen him to contact Glacier National Park at 406 888-7801.
Mr. Hwa’s family notified Park officials on Tuesday night that he had not contacted family members as agreed. The family said they had not heard from him since the first day of the hike.
Twenty to 25 personnel from the National Park Service and the US Border Patrol began searching areas at the beginning of Mr. Hwa’s itinerary early today. The effort includes four dog handlers. Low temperatures, rain, and fog were expected to be a factor in the scope and duration of the operation.
Suddath said poor weather and low visibility prevented aerial searches today. But he said he expected that search efforts would intensify in the following days as weather conditions improve. Additional agencies, likely to include the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department, are expected to participate.
- NPS -