Yellowstone National Park identifies man whose foot was found in thermal pool

By: - November 21, 2022 1:16 pm

Abyss pool on a winter afternoon (Photo by Jacob Frank of the National Park Service | Flickr).

Yellowstone National Park draws millions of tourists yearly, which often generates stories of misbehavior or misunderstanding. Think: Trying to pose with irritable bison or walking up to grizzly bears as if they’re an attraction at the local zoo.

However, in a case that is odd, even by the park’s standards, authorities have concluded that a human foot, found over the summer floating in the Abyss thermal pool in West Thumb Geyser Basin, belongs to Il Hun Ro, a 70-year-old man from Los Angeles.

Authorities remain mum on the location of the rest the body or how Ro wound up in the thermal attraction at the park, but they say they suspect no foul play. Morgan Warthin of Yellowstone National Park said that a full report will be available in the coming weeks, and that Ro’s family has been notified.

Authorities were able to make the confirmation using DNA analysis.

The foot was discovered in August after reports of a shoe floating in the pool.

“The investigation determined, to the best of our knowledge, that an unwitnessed incident involving one individual happened on the morning of July 31,” a press release said, “and no foul play occurred.”

Park officials noted the lack of evidence and say the circumstances surrounding the death of Ro “remain unknown.”

National park rangers and special agents, including the Teton County (Wyoming) Coroner’s Office and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, were also called in.

Park officials would not comment on whether Ro had been reported missing, when contacted by the Daily Montanan. They also declined to say if he was traveling with any companions, or if Yellowstone National Park officials had previously searched for him.

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Darrell Ehrlick
Darrell Ehrlick

Darrell Ehrlick is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Montanan, after leading his native state’s largest paper, The Billings Gazette. He is an award-winning journalist, author, historian and teacher, whose career has taken him to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Wyoming. With Darrell at the helm, the Gazette staff took Montana’s top newspaper award six times in seven years. Darrell's books include writing the historical chapters of “Billings Memories” Volumes I-III, and “It Happened in Minnesota.” He has taught journalism at Winona State University and Montana State University-Billings, and has served on the student publications board of the University of Wyoming.

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