The body of a 51-year-old Columbia Falls man and a crashed vehicle registered in his name were found miles apart near Whitefish Lake on Sept. 23.
The Whitefish Police Department and Flathead County Sheriff’s Office responded to an area just north of Mackinaw Point, on the lake’s west shore, and discovered the body Timothy Allen Braaten. Braaten’s body has since been transported to the Montana State Crime Lab for further investigation but Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino said initial indications show he died of hypothermia. Heino added it appeared Braaten had been out in the elements since the previous night, when temperatures dipped into the 30s.
Not long after the body was discovered, authorities were alerted to an abandoned vehicle that had been found crashed into a property gate “several miles” from Mackinaw Point on the North Beaver Lake Connector Road. The vehicle turned out to be registered to Braaten. The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate the crash and Braaten’s death.
Update (9/29/20, 1:38 p.m.): This story was first published before the identity of the victim was released.
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