Wis. couple rescued after being stranded for 6 days near Yellowstone

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A couple from Cornell, Wis. was rescued Monday morning after their car got stuck in heavy snow near Yellowstone National Park, leaving them stranded for almost a week.

Mark and Kristine Wathke were last seen leaving the northeast gate of Yellowstone National Park around 4 p.m. on Oct. 29. They had also contacted family members to let them know they'd be home the next day, but never showed.

Local deputies say a nearby rancher, Troy Barnett, began searching for the couple on a snowmobile upon hearing radio reports that the two were missing.

WEAU said around 8:30 a.m., Barnett found the couple in their car along Beartooth Highway, U.S. 212, near Long Lake, Wyo. The two were cold and hungry but otherwise unharmed, according to the Park County Sheriff's Department.

Barnett was able to bring the two to safety on his snowmobiles.

"Mr. Barnett’s actions in this instance possibly saved this couple from serious harm. I commend him for his unselfishness," Sheriff Scott Steward said in a news release.

The Wathkes were without cell phone service, but fortunately had enough fuel to keep their car heater running periodically. They also had plenty of water and a limited food supply.

Lance Mathis, public information officer for sheriff's department, told the Wisconsin Radio Network that Barnett had put the couple up at his ranch, K Bar Z Guest Ranch & Outfitters, and treated them to a nice meal Monday.

The Wathkes told deputies they drove down the highway last Tuesday, but didn't realize it was closed.

Mathis said the mountainous highway reaches an elevation of about 12,000 feet and typically closes for winter in mid-October. Mathis says snow that moved into the region last month prompted an earlier closure in September, which is evident by highway postings.

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