Exposure Listed as Cause of Death in Mineral County Missing Persons Case
Mineral County Sheriff Tom Bauer says the body of 56-year-old Debra Ann Koziel has been found after days of searching in the Fish Creek area.
According to Bauer, 911 received a call for help from Koziel at about 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 17, in which she said she was lost and that her car had been towed. Investigators tried to ping the phone to find her location, but the process did not work.
"My deputies began searching, looking for a needle in a haystack, not knowing where to work," Bauer said. "Continued to look throughout the weekend at different locations. We also called all the towing companies, the Sheriff's Office in Missoula, the Police Department, but no one had anything. Then on Monday at 11:30 or so, we got a call from a gentleman up in Fish Creek saying that there was a car in a ditch up there that matched the description of her vehicle."
Even with Fish Creek as a starting point, the search was still very complicated. In the original call, Koziel had indicated that she was up the mountain from her vehicle and searchers scanned up high for clues, however one Fish and Game warden found human footprints down near the river and some medications with her name.
About a mile downstream, they found her body on Tuesday afternoon, but the conditions were too hazardous to use a helicopter so a combination of Search and Rescue, Fish and Game, and the Mineral County Sheriff's Office, worked to carry the body out.
Bauer says the coroner determined the cause of death to be exposure and that no foul play appears to have been involved.