WEST GLACIER, Mont. – Bone fragments found in Glacier National Park last summer were those of a Kentucky seminary student who went missing during a planned 100-mile solo backcountry hike in August 2008, park officials said Wednesday.
The fragments belonged to 27-year-old Yi-Jien Hwa, according to the National Missing Person’s Program at the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.
He had been living in Lexington, Ky., and attending Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.
Hwa’s cause of death could not be determined, park spokeswoman Denise Germann said. His family has been notified and the case has been closed, officials said.
Last July, a hiker found fabric matching a description of Hwa’s clothing in an area below the steep cliffs of Avalanche Lake, which was on Hwa’s intended route. Rangers later found the bone fragments and evidence that closely matched items on Hwa’s equipment list.
When Hwa went missing, his backcountry permit said he planned to cover 96 miles on his hike, with an increase of 15,000 feet in elevation and a similar descent over the course of the hike.
The permit advised Hwa to watch for bears and mountain lions and warned that hypothermia and giardia – a parasitic infection from drinking contaminated water – were possible concerns. It also said a solo hike was not recommended.