S-B grad likely died of exposure
The family of a 1998 Suttons Bay graduate continues to grieve after the recovery of his remains Friday in a remote area of Montana.
Noah Pippin disappeared in August 2010 while hiking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, a one-million acre preserve in northwestern Montana.
“Obviously, it’s good that we have some kind of answer now,” said Pippin’s younger brother Josiah from the family’s home near Lake Ann. “I had always believed he was OK and (would) come back for a visit. But he’s not going to be there.”
Noah Pippin, the oldest of three sons born to Michael and Rosalie Pippin, moved to the area from Tennessee when he was 9 1/2-yearsold. He and his brothers grew up on Roubal Road in Suttons Bay Township.
“We were best buddies,” Josiah said. “We’d ride bikes and explore the big woods behind the house and pretend we were cops and robbers.”
Pippin graduated from Suttons Bay and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served two tours of duty in Iraq. After completing his enlistment, Pippin settled in California and worked for the Los Angeles Police Department. It was then that he joined the California National Guard.
In anticipation of his deployment to the Middle East, Pippin visited his family and spent some time in Leelanau County where his parents still have strong ties. They moved to Grand Traverse County in 2000.
After the visit, Pippin headed to the Montana wilderness to do some hiking prior to reporting to the National Guard in California. When he failed to report for duty, there was speculation that he went AWOL rather than be deployed for a third time.
However, it appears that Pippin, hiking at an altitude of about 7,500 feet, was caught in a storm that brought with it six inches of snow and freezing temperatures.
In the latest effort to find Pippin’s body, search teams that included Pippin’s youngest brother Caleb, who lives in Texas, hiked for two days into the wilderness area before finding his remains in a huge rock crevice. Noah’s remains were found 18 miles from a trail head. The presumed cause of death is exposure, his brother said.
Recovery of Pippin’s remains brings the family that much nearer to closure. But Josiah Pippin can’t help but think about his brother’s last moments of life.
“I hope God was with him,” said Josiah, whose family attended the Northport Covenant Church and Suttons Bay Bible Church. “Noah’s dog tags listed him as an atheist. He wasn’t on the same page as us in that area. But I hope he turned to God out there so I can see him again later.”