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Dog who ran away after fatal crash finally captured

MISSOULA – A 2-year-old dog who ran away after a fatal crash on Interstate 90 in western Montana last month was captured Friday morning and will be returned to her family.

A Clinton, Mont., landowner captured Bella at 7:45 a.m. in a live trap baited with Bella’s toys, food and some chicken.

“Finally we’re at peace with everything on our end,” Marcia Erickson told the Missoulian. The Missoula woman helped with the nearly monthlong effort to catch the black dog with the pointy ears and set up the live trap after a landowner in the Clinton area reported seeing Bella near his barn on Thursday night.

Erickson said the dog was “really skinny” and she took her to a veterinarian for a checkup.

Bella ran away from an Aug. 5 crash that killed 8-year-old Jacob Gamble, of Seattle. The dog belongs to 5-year-old Eli Gamble, who was hurt along with his mother, Charlotte Gamble, and her partner, Dan Klabunde. They were traveling to Montana for a vacation when they were struck by a stolen pickup driven by Daniel Martin, of Missoula. Martin, who was intoxicated, also died in the crash.

Bella had been frequently spotted running around in the Clinton area, but the skittish dog wouldn’t allow anyone to get close enough to catch her, until Friday.

Bill Cox, Eli’s grandfather, called Erickson to say he was driving to Seattle to pick up Eli and his mom before heading to meet Erickson and Bella in Spokane. Cox said his daughter wasn’t emotionally prepared to return to Montana.

But her feelings about the people of Montana are almost too deep to put into words, he told the Missoulian.

“You cannot believe how grateful we are to the people in the community, the people in Clinton, the people on Facebook” – where a Finding Bella Dog page collected about 2,000 “likes.”