A 48-year-old man from Arizona was recovered from Lake McDonald March 26, Glacier National Park officials said. He was later identified as Wei Liu of Tempe.
Liu died from hypothermia after falling into the lake and due to the cold water was unable to return to the dock at the Lake McDonald Lodge, according to a release from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
At approximately 9 a.m. park dispatch received a missing person notification from a concerned family member.
Park rangers launched a search, and located a vehicle at Lake McDonald Lodge matching the description provided by the man’s family.
Park ground crews searched the nearby area, and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team responded to conduct an underwater search.
The dive team deployed a remote operated vehicle and found and recovered the man in Lake McDonald near the dock at the lodge. The lake in that area drops off to depths well over one’s head very quickly.
The exact circumstances leading to the victim’s death are unknown, the park said in a release. No foul play is suspected. The death remains under investigation by park rangers.
Lake McDonald is still frozen in some places, though open water exists throughout the lake, including flowing out of Sprague Creek and in other areas near Lake McDonald Lodge. Unstable ice is also prevalent.
The lake froze over earlier this month, but warm weather recently has made for unstable ice. Even when it freezes, there are many springs and seeps that make the ice unsafe.
Lake McDonald is the Park’s largest lake.
The park thanked the Flathead County Sheriff’s Dive Team for their professional and prompt response to the incident. The team trains regularly on Lake McDonald.
Falling and water-related accidents are the leading cause of death in Glacier. The park urges people to stay off frozen water and away from slippery rocks near rushing water. The park has hundreds of icy streams and lakes that can pose extreme hazards.