UPDATE: Missing Foot Found in Yellowstone Park Identified
Yellowstone National Park officials released new information this week regarding the bizarre account of a lone, human foot (still in the shoe) that was discovered in a thermal feature in the park in August. At the time, very little info was provided and I had a ton of questions on how/why something like this occurred in one of the busiest national parks in the United States. See the original story below the next photo.
The identity of the person to whom the foot belonged has been released.
According to an Associated Press story today (11/17), park officials have declared that the foot belonged to a 70-year-old man from Los Angeles named Il Hun Ro. The body part was identified with DNA and his family has been notified.
Investigators believe that whatever happened to Ro occurred on July 31, 2022, and they do not suspect foul play. They said there were no witnesses and the question about what happened to the remainder of the body remains unanswered. Yellowstone spokesperson Morgan Warthin told the AP that a full report would be released in the coming weeks.
ORIGINAL STORY (8/19/22) A human foot, still inside its shoe, was found floating in a thermal feature in Yellowstone National Park earlier this week, and I have so many questions about the finding. Maybe I watch too much Dateline, but the scenario has left me scratching my head.
- Where is the rest of the body?
- How did a lone foot end up in the scalding pool?
- Park officials say "no foul play", but how do they know?
- Was the person pushed in? Did they fall? Did a scavenger drop the foot-in-the-shoe into the water?
- If it was a hiker that got lost and eaten by a bear, how come there was no missing persons report?
According to this report by NBC Montana, officials believe the incident may have occurred on July 31. The foot was discovered on August 16th in Abyss Pool, located in the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The stunning thermal feature was noted by early explorers. The National Park Service wrote that in 1879, a gentleman named F.V. Hayden described the pool like this,
[the] ultramarine hue of the transparent depth in the bright sunlight was the most dazzlingly beautiful sight I have ever beheld
An average of 52 people a year perish in Yellowstone National Park.
The folks at Cowboy State Daily reported that around 50 people a year die in the park. With millions of visitors annually, some will unfortunately die. The most common causes are road accidents and heart attacks. Next are falls and "undetermined". I'm guessing the mystery of the missing foot will eventually land in that category. However, park officials say the investigation is ongoing.
National Parks have their own specialized investigation teams.
You may wonder what agency is tasked with investigating crimes or suspicious activities in the park. Maybe you've heard about Yellowstone's infamous "zone of death", a 50-square-mile area on the Idaho border that falls under a weird legal technicality because there aren't any people there for a "jury of your peers", should you be caught committing a crime.
The National Park Services has its own department called the Investigative Services Bureau. They say,
The special agents of the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB) are a specialized and highly trained team of criminal investigators. They work year-round and around the clock to investigate complex, sensitive, and long-term cases for crimes throughout the national park system.
Perhaps this case of the floating foot was simply a bizarre accident. Someone fell into the water, the rest of the body boiled away and disappeared, and all that remained was the foot. I guess that's plausible. Or, maybe we'll never know.