UPDATE: Man who found missing Cornell couple talks - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Man who found missing Cornell couple talks about rescue

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Park County, Wyoming (WQOW) - The search for a missing married couple from Chippewa County ended with good news Monday as they were found alive and well.

Mark and Kristine Wathke are from Cornell and had made hotel reservations in Miles City, Montana last Tuesday. But after leaving Yellowstone National Park, the hotel says they never showed up.

The Park County Sheriff's Office says the last time the couple had been heard from was last Tuesday. Search crews began canvassing the area but had no luck. Earlier Monday morning, they were finally rescued when a nearby lodge owner searched for them on his snowmobile.

"I just loaded it in back of my pickup, drove up as far as I could. I probably only had to ride my snowmobile up like four miles, and then I saw the car. Come up to the car, and Mark opened the door and they were both fine, they were just excited, they were in good health, didn't need medical attention. They were just really appreciative, just glad to see me," said Troy Barnett, Owner of K Bar Z Guest Ranch in Cody, Wyoming.

The couple's car got stuck in a snowy stretch of highway 212, also known as the Beartooth Highway. The sheriff's office says the road was closed for the winter because snow typically covers the area due to high elevations. Barnett says the couple did have water, and were eating peanut butter, jelly, and crackers.

"They were conserving gas, they still had plenty of gas, they had like a half tank of gas. They had a little bit on snow gear and all the clothes from their luggage, but no blankets. They said they were running the car ten minutes every three, four hours just to keep it warm in there," said Barnett.

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PRESS RELEASE FROM PARK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT -

A missing Wisconsin couple that was last seen leaving the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29 has been found alive and well.  Mark and Kristine Wathke from Cornell, Wisconsin were found this morning in their vehicle by a local rancher on the Beartooth Highway (US 212) near Long Lake.  The car had become stuck in heavy snow. 

 

After hearing reports of the missing couple, Troy Barnett, owner of the K Bar Z Guest Ranch took it upon himself to search for the missing couple on snowmobile.  He located them at 8:30 a.m., cold and hungry but otherwise unharmed.  Barnett said that the couple had plenty of fuel in their car and was therefore able to start the engine periodically to keep warm.  They also had plenty of water and a limited amount of food.

 

The missing couple had hotel reservations in Miles City, Montana for Tuesday night, but was listed by the hotel as a "no show."  Last contact with the couple was from within the park on the 29th when they contacted their family to let them know they would be home on October 30th.  There had been no further cell phone activity and the couple had not been heard from or seen since. 

 

The Beartooth Highway which usually closes for the season in mid-October has been closed this year since mid-September due to weather-related hazardous driving conditions.  The highway is posted as being closed.

 

Sheriff Scott Steward praised Mr. Barnett for his self-less concern for the couple.  "Residents in this area often volunteer their time and resources to assist in rescue operations, said Sheriff Steward.  "Mr. Barnett's actions in this instance possibly saved this couple from serious harm.  I commend him for his unselfishness."

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Park County, Wyoming (WQOW) - Park County authorities say the missing Cornell couple, Mark & Kristine Wathke, have been found alive and well. They were found in their vehicle Monday morning by a rancher who went looking for them on his snowmobile.

Authorities say the couple did have food and water and were able to keep the vehicle running occasionally to keep warm. They did not have cell phone service.

Park County authorities say the couple were on a road that had been closed for the season due to winter weather. The vehicle they were driving became stuck in snow. The road, Highway 212, is also known as the Beartooth Highway. At some points, the road is over 10,000 feet above sea level. The road is plowed by Yellowstone National Park, but authorities close it because frequent heavy snow due to elevation makes it difficult to maintain.

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Park County, Wyoming (WQOW) - Park County authorities have alerted WQOW News 18 that the missing Cornell couple, Mark & Kristine Wathke, have been found alive. We'll update you as soon as we know more.

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Park County, Wyoming (WQOW)-  Search and rescue teams are combing parts of Wyoming and Montana looking for a husband and wife from Wisconsin. The couple was last seen leaving the Yellowstone National Park.

Mark and Kristine Wathke, who are from Cornell, had hotel reservations in Miles City, Montana Tuesday night but the hotel says they never showed up.

The Park County Sheriff's Office says the couple last spoke with family on the 29th to let them know they'd be home October 30th. Since then law enforcement says there has been no further cell phone activity and the Wathkes have not been seen or heard from since.

Search crews are out canvassing highways. They are also physically searching ravines and cliffs along the roadways. A search and rescue aircraft is also aiding in the effort. 

If you've been in contact with the couple you're asked to call the Park County Sheriff's Office at 307-527-8700.

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Press Release – The Park County Search and Rescue Unit is currently searching for a missing Wisconsin couple that was last seen leaving the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29.  Mark and Kristine Wathke from Cornell, Wisconsin had hotel reservations in Miles City, Montana for Tuesday night, but were listed by the hotel as a "no show."  Last contact with the couple was from within Yellowstone on the 29th when they contacted their family to let them know they would be home on October 30th.  There has been no further cell phone activity and the couple has not been heard from or seen since. 

Search and Rescue personnel are currently performing a detailed highway search of Highways 212, 296, 295 and 120 within Park County.  A highway search involves rescue personnel not only driving the highways but also physically searching ravines and cliffs along the roadways.  They are being assisted by a Search and Rescue aircraft.

Mark Wathke is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds.  He has brown hair, green eyes, wears glasses and has a goatee.  Kristine is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 145 pounds.  She has long wavy blond hair and hazel eyes.  They are driving a silver 2012 Kia Forte with Wisconsin license plates 545VHH.  

If you have contact or recall seeing the vehicle or its occupants, please contact the Park County Sheriff's Office at 307-527-8700.

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