CHICAGO (CBS) — The search continued Tuesday morning for a River Forest woman who disappeared while hiking in Montana.
Madeline Connelly, 23, hasn’t been seen since Thursday, when she left for a seven-mile hike with her dog, Mogie, in the Great Bear Wilderness area near Glacier National Park.
Her car was found near the trailhead in Montana, and investigators have found her tracks.
Teams have been searching by air and on foot, and spotted an adult black bear and two cubs in the area where her tracks were picked up, but there were no signs of a struggle, and experts were being careful not to jump to any conclusions about what might have happened to Connelly.
“This is the wilderness that she went into, so it’s not fair for me to speculate at this point what may have happened to her,” Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said. “There’s lots of different things on the menu, and of course our searchers are continuing to explore every possibility.”
Searchers have been working day and night to find Connelly, a graduate of Oak Park-River Forest High School.
Her uncle said the family has great faith she’ll be found safe.
“We’re very positive,” Michael Connelly said. “They’re treating this as a rescue, not as a recovery, and there have been no signs of any torn clothing, or blood, or anything like that. So they’re treating it as if she’s out there.”
“There’s a million ways to get lost, and they know a million and one ways to find people,” he added.
Madeline Connelly’s family held a prayer service Monday night at St. Luke’s Church, the family parish, and more than 300 people attended.
“There is a lot of sadness, but also hope. So people who know her, love her, and believe that she’s very resilient; and so there’s a lot of reasons for hope that she can be found and returned. So, sadness that she’s missing, but blended with the for her return,” Fr. Steven Bauer said.
Connelly had been en route to Alaska, where she was expected to start a new job. She stopped in Montana to visit her uncle, who lives near Glacier National Park.
Her parents were on their way to Montana from River Forest to assist in the search.