JOHNSON COUNTY — The body of a Kentucky woman was found Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. between Soldier Park and Triangle Park in the Bighorn Mountains following a search and rescue mission conducted out of Johnson County.
The woman was identified as a Carol Hanchette, 62, of Louisville, Kentucky, and the Johnson County Coroner David Harness determined hypothermia as her cause of death. Her hiking companion, Richard Cornelius, 67, of Billings, initiated the search and rescue mission after the two were separated while hiking near Seven Brothers in the Bighorn Mountains last weekend.
A statement from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday at about 5 p.m., the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing 62-year-old female hiker in the Seven Brothers area of the Cloud Peak Wilderness. Deputies responded to a Hunter Creek campground and met with the victim’s hiking companion, Cornelius.
Johnson County Search and Rescue responded. It was determined that the pair had hiked into the wilderness area on Friday, Oct. 6, and had set up a camp. On Saturday they had taken a hike further into the area and had become separated in the late afternoon. Cornelius said he could not find camp in the dark and had to build a fire. On Sunday morning, it started snowing again and he again failed to find camp and again spent the night out.
On Monday morning when the weather cleared, Cornelius was able to start working his way out of the wilderness area. Late in the afternoon, he was able to find his way out.
Johnson County Search and Rescue responded with 17 searchers, along with seven from Sheridan County Search and Rescue. Upon arrival at the campsite, search and rescue found a note from Hanchette indicating that she was walking out to find help. She had left with her sleeping bag and gear.
On Tuesday morning, a total of 38 search and rescue personnel, including three from Sheridan County, two from Washakie County and 13 U.S. Forest Service personnel were in the search area, along with an airplane.