Yellowstone-Body Found

This undated family photo released by the National Park Service shows Feiyang "Isaac" Xiang. The remains of Xiang, 21, a Yellowstone National Park seasonal worker from China and missing since 2015, have been recovered and returned to his family, Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said. His remains were found in February 2018 in the vicinity of where he was last seen being swept down the Yellowstone River. They were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, which informed the park in June that they were Xiang.

The remains of a 21-year-old man from China who likely drowned in Yellowstone National Park in 2015 have been found and identified.

Feiyang “Isaac” Xiang was last seen being swept down the Yellowstone River in July 2015. Searchers — including several dog and helicopter teams — spent eight days looking for him but were unable to find him.

In February 2018, bones were found near where Xiang was last seen, according to park officials. Law enforcement officers collected the bones and sent them to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for DNA testing.

In June, park officials received confirmation that the remains were Xiang’s. They then notified his family, which recently came to the park to collect his remains. They have returned to China.

Xiang was a summer employee for Xanterra, a concession company that operates in the park. He went camping with four friends near the confluence of the Yellowstone River and Hellroaring Creek in July 2015, according to documents obtained by the Chronicle.

While camping, three friends — including Xiang — went swimming in an eddy of the Yellowstone River. Xiang began drifting toward the middle of the river and had difficulty staying above water. A friend tried to bring him to shore but was unsuccessful.

Xiang’s friends then ran to get a rope from their campsite, but before they could get the rope, Xiang was swept downstream toward a series of rapids and wasn’t seen again.

Xiang’s friends tried to call 911 a few times before they were able to find cell service and connected with park rangers, who came to investigate and search the river. Search teams were unable to locate Xiang’s body as it likely became pinned to something underwater, the documents said.

Through their investigation, park officials determined no foul play had occurred and Xiang’s death was likely a result of the group not knowing or recognizing the risks associated with backcountry travel, according to the documents.

Chronicle staff writer Michael Wright contributed to this report.

Michael Wright can be reached at or at 406-582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.

Michael Wright covers the environment and wildlife issues for the Chronicle.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.

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