Columbus man ID’d, autopsy inconclusive
The Columbus man whose body was recovered from the Yellowstone River two weekends ago has been identified as Christopher Vacca, age 54.
An autopsy was inconclusive regarding the manner of death and the investigation is ongoing, said Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy.
Vacca had lived in Columbus for about three years and prior to that lived in Billings. Vacca is believed to have fallen into the river on Dec. 12, 2016. Authorities were alerted to a possible problem the following day when Vacca’s bicycle was found parked at the bridge and his footprints were found going down to the river but not leading back out.
When people in the area where questioned, they reported hearing a possible yell or scream the night before around 6 p.m.
Search crews from multiple counties converged on the scene almost immediately and employed boats, cameras, ground penetrating radar, cadaver dogs, a plane, a drone and a helicopter in the effort to find the man. Weather conditions at the time of the disappearance were brutal with below zero temperatures and heavy snow.
The Stillwater County Search and Rescue team, Columbus Fire Rescue, the Columbus Police Department, Absaroka Search Dogs, Western Montana Search Dogs, Gallatin County Search and Rescue, Flathead County, Two Bear Air and a local pilot assisted in the search.