YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — Kim Crumbo served two tours in Vietnam as a Navy SEAL and worked as a national park river ranger for decades, making his disappearance in Yellowstone all the more confounding.
Crews are continuing their search for the 74-year-old Utahn after the body of his brother, Mark O'Neill, was found Monday along the shore of Shoshone Lake. A family member reported the two overdue from their four-night camping trip on Sunday.
Well before Crumbo retired as a ranger at Grand Canyon National Park, in 1996 he co-founded the conservation group Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, which later merged with another group to form Wild Arizona. Crumbo worked to protect and restore native species, wild places and ecosystems, said his colleague Kelly Burke, who considers him family.
She said people who know Crumbo have been reconnecting over his disappearance “to hold each other up and put that energy in leaving the door open for him to walk back in.”
“It’s Kim Crumbo, after all,” she said. “He’s a monumental hero and legend of a man. We can’t bring ourselves to believe he wouldn’t emerge from this.”
In his biography on the Voices for America's Wildlife website, Crumbo wrote how his grandfather introduced him to the mountains of Utah "as I gained similar lessons in sharing the earth."
The Salt Lake Tribune said Crumbo was a frequent contributor, writing letters to the editor about wildlife and the environment.
Officials believe O'Neill likely drowned, but an official cause of death has not been determined, Yellowstone spokesperson Morgan Warthin said. Shoshone Lake has an average temperature of around 48 degrees Fahrenheit, with survival time estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes in such cold water.
Those who know him aren't giving up hope, saying few were better equipped to deal with nature than Crumbo.
“If there was anybody who was going to figure out a way to survive in the wild, it would be Crumbo,” Katie Davis, the executive director of Wildlands Network, told the Salt Lake Lake Tribune.