Foot Found in Yellowstone Hot Pool, but Case is Still Murky

More than 20 people have been killed by Yellowstone's geothermal pools, geysers, mudpots, steam vents and hot springs

By Associated Press

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – A missing man whose foot was found floating in a Yellowstone hot pool had no suicide note in his car — though investigators have found his laptop computer, notebooks and handwritten poems, according to National Park Service documents released Tuesday.

The law enforcement investigation documents posted online offered new details but no solid clues as to how Il Hun Ro, 70, of Los Angeles died — and how his foot, still in shoe, floated away — in Abyss Pool last summer.

Yellowstone officials didn’t immediately return an email message Tuesday asking about any new developments in the case. Park officials said earlier they didn’t suspect foul play.

More than 20 people have been killed by Yellowstone’s geothermal pools, geysers, mudpots, steam vents and hot springs, according to the park’s website.

A park visitor was first to report the black shoe to a tour driver Aug. 16, although park officials earlier found two shoe soles — size 9 or 10 — in the pool Aug. 8 and 12, according to a park ranger’s report released Tuesday.

All names and other identifying information were redacted from the documents.

Investigators used a relative’s DNA sample to identify Il from human remains in the shoe. The documents didn’t describe finding any other remains after a search of Abyss Pool and surrounding area but did note apparent “fatty tissues” floating in the 140-degree Fahrenheit pool in the West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Investigators sampled but didn’t conclusively identify the substance in their released reports.

It remained unclear whether Il was traveling alone and exactly when he went missing. Investigators determined ll stayed at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, about an hour’s drive north of the basin, on the night of July 30, according to the documents.

Il’s Kia Niro crossover SUV was eventually the only visitor’s car left parked near the Abyss Pool. Inside, investigators found a variety of items including a wallet with his driver’s license and $447, a photo album, notebooks and a book of poems with handwritten notes, according to the documents.

The poems and notes weren’t written in English but a language redacted from the documents released Tuesday. Investigators using Google Translate found nothing suggesting a suicide note, according to their reports.

One of hundreds of thermal features in the world’s first national park, Abyss Pool is 53 feet deep. The pool’s constant circulation prevents it from erupting like Yellowstone’s famous geysers.

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