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‘Forces of nature’: Family remembers pair of experienced outdoorsmen after backcountry incident in Yellowstone

Posted at 8:58 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 23:35:13-04

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — Search and rescue crews are still searching for an experienced outdoorsman who was reported "overdue" from a backcountry canoe trip earlier this week in Yellowstone National Park.

74-year-old Kim Crumbo of Ogden has not been found. However, rescuers located the body of Crumbo’s brother, 67-year-old Mark O’Neill, on the east shore of Shoshone Lake on Monday.

As of Friday, the fifth day of search and rescue operations, the mission to locate Crumbo had shifted from "rescue" to 'recovery."

“They were so excited for this trip. It was the kind of thing that they both loved doing more than anything in the world,” said Zachary Crumbo, who is Kim’s son and Mark’s nephew. “It was not for lack of knowledge or lack preparation that this happened to them.”

Zachary says the pair had been planning the trip for years with Mark handling most of the logistics. As part of a multi-day backcountry canoe trip, the two were going to put in at Lewis Lake, paddle and portage the river between Lewis and Shoshone Lake, and then camp around the area.

“When I first heard that they were overdue, I was concerned, but not overly so because they knew the mistakes that people make when stuff goes a little bit sideways in the backcountry,” said Zachary, who notes that both Mark and Kim have an extensive outdoor skill set, including decades spent on the water. “The both of them together were just these forces of nature.”

Kim served as a Navy SEAL with deployments in Vietnam. When he came back to the United States, he dedicated his time and energy to conservation and the preservation of public lands.

“His commitment, just to lands conservation, his commitment to connecting everybody to public lands, his deep drive and desire to help people find beauty and passion and joy in the outdoors,” said Stacey Bare, who met Kim in 2011 when Bare worked as the military representative for the Sierra Club. “He was just a great protector of wild places and of people's emotions and safety, and he brought out the best in people, and he wanted our nation to save the best of our lands.”

Kim retired a few years ago but spent most of his time volunteering for numerous groups and organizations. He is considered by many as a "legend" in the field of conservation for his work.

“He’s just a quiet force. I mean, he’s been behind some of the most influential conservation organizations in the country and he just did the work,” said Bare. “Even in his disappearance, he’s pulling people together.”

“In certain circles, everybody you run into has a Kim Crumbo story, and I still run into people that knew him,” said Zachary. “[Kim] always thought the world could be better, and he never gave up on that idea.”

As of Friday, the incident at Yellowstone remains under investigation. Zachary says his family is finding comfort in the fact that Mark and Kim “were together in a place that they loved and doing something that they loved.”

If you have information that could help investigators piece together a timeline of events, or if you were in the Shoshone Lake area between Sept. 12-19, please call at 307-344-2428 or email