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Contact: Denise Germann, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MT. – New evidence has been found that is believed to be related to a 2008 incident of a missing hiker. In August of 2008 Glacier National Park Rangers and many other individuals and organizations were involved in an extensive search effort for a missing hiker, Yi-Jien Hwa, a native of Malaysia.
The search effort began August 21, 2008 after receiving word from Hwa’s family that he was three days overdue from a lengthy and arduous planned hike in the park’s backcountry. After more than 2,500 hours of searching in difficult terrain and challenging conditions, the intensive effort was scaled back in early September of 2008. Since then, park rangers have continued to respond to new leads and analyze new information related to the investigation, including a report of suspected evidence earlier this summer.
On July 3, 2011, a hiker found a portion of two items of clothing matching the description of clothing identified in the initial search efforts, and was able to pinpoint the location of the items in steep cliffs off the Floral Park Route, Hwa’s intended route. Rangers have returned to the site a couple of times for further investigation, with assistance from members of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department and Search and Rescue Team.
Numerous pieces of evidence have been found, several of which closely match the items identified in Hwa’s equipment list. The evidence also includes some bone fragments that are being analyzed for DNA identification by the Montana Department of Justice’s Crime Laboratory. Rangers believe the evidence was transported down slope from the cliffs above by water and snow avalanches.
Deep snow and steep terrain are extending the recovery efforts which will continue as weather conditions allow or definitive proof is found. Park rangers are in contact with Hwa’s wife and mother.