Search intensifies for 23-year-old missing for a month in rugged Montana wilderness

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A search continues for a 23-year-old hiker feared dead after she went missing following a July 1 satellite call to her mother from rugged Montana mountains, authorities say.

Tatum Morell, a Montana State University student from Idaho, had planned to summit five 12,000-foot peaks on a solo trip, The Billings Gazette reported.

“Tate was a fiercely independent, adventurous soul who loved the mountains,” her family said in a video statement released July 10. “We find some solace in knowing she passed in a place she loved.”

A scaled-back search for Morell has continued in the weeks since that announcement.

On Thursday, Red Lodge Fire Rescue announced plans for an expanded search this weekend involving multiple rescue and dog search teams focusing on Whitetail and Silver Run Peaks, September Morn Lake, Timberline Lake, Lake Susanne and Snow Lakes.

Tom Kuntz, Red Lodge fire chief, said in the July 10 video that after an intense search, rescuers believe Morell had not survived. She had been due to return July 5.

Officials said she likely had a “tragic accident” and was unable to activate her rescue locator, Fox News reported.

“Some people may wonder why my sister was out there by herself,” said Josh Morell, her brother, in the July 10 video. “I don’t think that is the right thing to ask. She was out there because she’s a strong adventurous, independent person. She loved being out in the places where she was at.”

“There wasn’t anything necessarily that she did wrong,” he said. “It was just an accident, and accidents happen.”

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