Remains of missing man found in Sluice Boxes State Park

This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 29.

Brenden Rollins, 20, was found deceased in the bottom of a ravine in Sluice Boxes State Park, according to Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter.

The Cascade County Search and Rescue and other agencies had been searching for Rollins since Oct. 24.

Slaughter said Oct. 26 that Rollins’ remains were recovered from the park. Initially, crews weren’t able to recover him from the park due to darkness and ground conditions, Slaughter said Sunday night.

Slaughter said in an Oct. 29 email that Rollins’ remains were transported on Oct. 28 to the State Crime Lab and the medical examiner conducted an examination on Oct. 29, determining “no suspicious injuries/trauma or anything apparent suggested anything other than an accidental death due to hypothermia from exposure to the cold. Toxicology is still pending.”

County teams, along with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks found Rollins in an area that is more than four miles into the park and only accessible by foot, according to a release from Slaughter.

Slaughter said earlier on Oct. 25 that CCSO took a report of a missing person at 12:47 p.m. Oct. 24 from Rollins’ friend Logan Haakenson.

According to Slaughter’s release, Haakenson told CCSO officials that he and Rollins went to the Sluice Boxes State Park on the evening of Oct. 23. As the weather became worse, they got cold and decided to hike back out of the wilderness to their vehicle, but during their hike out, Haakenson fell off the trail into a ravine that in the dark he could not hike out of, separating the two friends, according to CCSO.

Haakenson had a sleeping bag and spent the night in the ravine and hiked out in the morning when he was found by a hunter, according to Slaughter.

The search area was more than 1,500 acres, Slaughter said.

The search since Oct. 24 has focused along the trail between the upper parking lot of the state park south to where the trail intersects with logging creek road on the west side of Belt Creek, according to Slaughter.

Agencies involved in the search included CCSO, county search and rescue, FWP, Malmstrom, Montana Highway Patrol and Belt Fire Department, according to Slaughter.

“The recent snow fall made a technical trail treacherous to traverse. However, ground crews searched the trail from the upper parking lot to the last known location. We have been pinging Brenden’s cellphone, but it appears to be off.  The last known ping location is consistent with the area being searched,” according to Slaughter’s Sunday afternoon release. “Currently, weather is cooperating, but the snow and frigid temperatures are making ground searches difficult. This combined with the topography of the search area has made search conditions treacherous. Malmstrom Air Force Base has been flying the area, but it has been weather dependent.”