Dr. Kelsey A. Musgrove, a cardiothoracic surgery fellow at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, was last seen on March 30 after she failed to return from a hike near the Potato River Falls area, around 280 miles away from her home in Middleton, WI.
According to a press release from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, “Her last contact was that she had reached the Potato River Falls in Gurney.”
The authorities found her vehicle at a parking area near the falls.
The clues gathered from the scene “lead us to believe she had gone hiking along the Potato River and had not returned to her vehicle,” the sheriff’s office added.
More than two dozen state and local agencies across the area aided in the search. The team finally found her body “partially buried in a steep clay bank” on April 3 “in an area near the Potato River Falls.”
“An investigation into the cause of death is ongoing, but no foul play is suspected at this time,” said Sheriff Paul Samardick. He said that it appears Musgrove got out of her car to get a closer look at the river.
“While walking along the edge of the embankment, it appears that the ground beneath her collapsed, bringing her down the bank along with clay and rocks,” Samardich added.
Her autopsy shows that she suffered traumatic injuries and died within minutes of the fall.
Park officials say the route only takes about 30 minutes to complete.
The sheriff also issued a warning to other hikers in the area.
“Clay banks are always unstable and can be undermined in areas not visible from above,” he said. “When hiking, please stay on marked trails and observation areas. If you choose to hike alone, always make sure someone knows your route of travel and when you plan to return.”
Studies show accidents are much more likely to be fatal if the accident occurs off an official hiking trail. The Accident Mortality Index is 2% for hiking on trails and 15% for hiking off trails.
According to Musgrove’s Twitter profile, she was an “aspiring thoracic surgeon” who loved nature and hiking.
Representatives from UW Health reacted to the news of Musgrove’s death in a written statement.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague Dr. Kelsey Musgrove,” they wrote. “She was recognized by her peers as a great surgeon, an outstanding mentor and an incredibly kind and positive spirit. Our thoughts and condolences are with her friends and family during this difficult time,” the statement continued.