Heidi Llewellyn Smith of Jackson was one of a party of four staying at the Bechler Ford backcountry campsite. Smith reportedly told other members of her part she felt ill, and went swimming.
She was later discovered under four feet of water against a log. Smith was removed from the river by a friend who determined that she wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. The friend ran five miles to the Bechler Ranger Station and reported the incident at 1:45 p.m. Thursday.
Rangers on horseback responded to the drowning report from the Bechler Ranger Station as well as a National Park Service helicopter from Mammoth Hot Springs with a park medic. They found the woman unconscious, not breathing, and without a pulse. She was declared dead at the scene. The incident remains under investigation.
The Bechler region of Yellowstone is accessible by road in the spring, summer and fall from Ashton, Idaho. Since it is not connected to the Grand Loop Road and is not close to any of the park’s better known attractions, the area is primarily used by anglers, backpackers, and stock users.