Two Freeze to Death on Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation: Woman, 24; Man, 54

Published January 4, 2017

EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA – Tribal officials are asking the public stay inside due extreme cold winter conditions on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Search parties found the bodies of two tribal members within the past week. Both died from being exposed to freezing temperatures.

A third person, Tom Traversie, Jr. is missing and search parties are braving the cold weather to look for him. A Command Center has been set up at the Cheyenne River Game Fish and Parks in Eagle Butte, coordinating the efforts to find Traversie.

Remi Bald Eagle, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s press spokesperson, said the Emergency Management Team is using every asset available, including a helicopter, to assist in the search.

Among the two found was Megan High Bear, Traversie’s 24-year-old girlfriend. On Saturday, Dec. 31, Leonard Bagola, 54, a tribal member from Bear Creek who lives at the Manor in Eagle Butte, was found frozen behind the HV Johnson Cultural Center in Eagle Butte.

Several winter storms have hit the Northern Plains back-to-back. Another arctic weather front is expected to enter the area and stay for a week.

The temperature in Eagle Butte at 11 a.m. CST was 7 degrees F. On Wednesday (January 4, 2017) morning, the National Weather Service has issued the following Wind Chill Advisory:

The Wind Chill Advisory is now in effect until 1 PM CST /noon mst/ Thursday.

  • Wind Chill values: expect wind chills to range from 20 below zero to 35 below zero through 1 PM Thursday, with the coldest wind chills occurring around 9 AM Thursday.
  • Impacts: The cold wind chills will cause frostbite in as little as 30 minutes to exposed skin.

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