NEW INFORMATION: Missing Cornell couple found alive and well

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The National Parks Service says Yellowstone has more than 350 miles of roads. Most are narrow, rough, and busy. Some sections are steep with sharp drop-offs.


NPS adivses people to drive to cautiously and courteously. Slow moving vehicles must use pullouts to observe wildlife or scenery and to allow safe passing by other vehicles. Watch for animals on the road, especially at night.

PARK COUNTY, Wyom. (WEAU) -- Mark and Kris Wathke's family say they talked to the couple earlier today and they are tired and weak but doing well!

The family says they are overwhelmed by the support they received here in Wisconsin and in Wyoming and wanted to thank everyone who helped find their loved ones.

"In a time when it’s hard to believe in miracles god has provided a miracle for our family," said Julie Wathke.

Wathke says finding mark and Kris alive and well is the best outcome they could have hoped for.

Kris and Mark were found Monday morning 11/4, by Troy Barnett, a rancher who lives in Park County.

“I heard about the missing couple in the area and there really is only one road you can get messed up on and that’s the road they were on," Barnett said.

Mark and Kris Wathke were found on Bear Tooth Highway near Long Lake in Park County Wyoming. Just two miles from where a barricade marks that the road is closed.

The Park County Sheriff's office says Bear Tooth Highway has been closed for winter weather since mid-September.

“I'm just glad everyone is alright especially after 6 days of not knowing,” Barnett said.

Mark and Kris Wathke’s family said they talked to Mark on the phone and he seemed in good spirits. Mark told them they made a wrong turn and their car got stuck in a snow.

Mark said they had some water with them and rationed out peanut butter sandwiches and oatmeal they had in the car.

"Words can't express how grateful we are for all the hard work and effort from everybody involved with locating Mark and Kris," Julie Wathke said.

The Park County Sheriff’s Department started searching for the couple yesterday after family said they hadn't heard from the couple for 6 days Mark and Kris had told family they would be home October 30th.

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NEW INFORMATION: The Park County, Wyoming Sheriff’s Department says a missing couple from Cornell, Wisconsin has been found alive and well.

Deputies say a rancher who had heard about the couple's disappearance went out on his snowmobile and found the couple Monday around 8:30 a.m. Mountain time.

Deputies say Mark and Kristine Wathke, who were last seen Tuesday, were near Yellowstone Park when they drove down a road that they didn't realize was closed because of the weather, and their car got stuck in the snow.

The sheriff's department says the couple had enough fuel in the car to keep it running and keep warm, and also had food and water in the car. They did not have cell phone service.

The sheriff's department says the couple is doing well. We'll have more on this story in our evening newscasts.

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(RELEASE FROM PARK COUNTY, WY 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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PREVIOUS STORY:
PARK COUNTY, Wyom. (WEAU) -- Search and rescue crews in Wyoming are looking for a missing couple from Cornell, Wis. We called the Park County Sheriff's Department at about 7:45am this morning and there are currently no updates on this case.

The Park Co. Sheriff's Office says Mark and Kristine Wathke were last seen leaving the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The couple was driving a silver 2012 Kia Forte with Wisconsin plates 545-VHH.

Deputies say the couple had hotel reservations in Miles City, Montana for Tuesday night, but never showed.

The last contact the couple had with family was on the 29th from Yellowstone to let them know they would be home on October 30th.

Deputies say there has been no further cell phone activity and the couple has not been heard from or seen since.

Park County Search and Rescue teams are searching Highway 212, 296, 295 and 120 within Park County. They are also searching cliffs and ravines by helicopter.

If you have any information on their whereabouts, you are asked to call the Park County Sheriff's Office at 307-527-8700.


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