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Woman found after going missing in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve

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Search crews found a Waukesha woman who went missing in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve near La Farge just after midnight Sunday morning.

Elizabeth R. Cooper, 31, was hiking in the reserve Saturday. She was in contact with her sister in the afternoon and told her sister she was lost before her phone died and no one could reach her. The last phone contact with Cooper was at 6:50 p.m., according to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.

The sister called the Vernon County Dispatch Center at 8:05 p.m. The La Farge Fire Department searched all hiking trails. Crews requested additional help after struggling to find her.

An aerial drone operated by the Richland County Sheriff’s Office detected a heat signal and guided personnel to Cooper’s location around 12:10 a.m. Sunday. She was found safe and refused medical treatment at the scene.

The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office thanked all the volunteer agencies and private citizens that assisted with the call. Manpower for a grid search was requested from the Viola Fire Department, Ontario Fire Department, Westby Fire Department, Cashton Fire Department, Hillsboro Fire Department, Yuba Fire, and Viroqua Fire Department. The Vernon County Department of Emergency Management was also on scene with a mobile command post and an aerial drone. The Richland County Sheriff’s office and Middleton Fire Department were requested for their aerial drone capabilities.

Sheriff John B. Spears reminded everyone to have a plan in place if hiking along to prevent any incidents from occurring.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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