CROW AGENCY — The Crow and Northern Cheyenne communities are devastated after a pair of young high school sweethearts were missing and later found in a fatal crash.
Before the vehicle was found late Monday morning, it was a desperate search for missing high school sweethearts 15-year-old Mylei Birdinground and 16-year-old Wylie Spang.
Family members and tribal police say Birdinground and Spang had left a family member’s house in Crow Agency early Saturday morning around 4 a.m. and were headed home on Highway 212 to Busby.
When the couple didn’t arrive, family members started the first leg of what would soon turn into a two-day search.
“Both of their phones were off, no location, it said call rejected, so we started utilizing and taking advantage of social media, tagging all her friends, asking everyone we know,” says Eva Fisher, Mylei’s aunt. “It’s just not like her, so it took family to do our own work, our own homework.”
Fisher says a missing persons report was submitted to tribal police and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but no missing persons alert was sent out.
“I just know that she did report it, but typically they wait 24 hours before they can really get out there, but we had to do our own footwork,” Fisher said.
A statement from a BIA spokesperson says law enforcement at the Northern Cheyenne Agency received the report Sunday evening and an alert to look out for the vehicle was sent to the Northern Cheyenne Criminal Investigator, Crow Agency Police and a sheriff’s department. The BIA says the information was also entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Database so it would appear nationwide.
But it was Mylei’s uncle who noticed tire tracks going off the side of Highway 212 at mile marker 12 on Monday and found the car in the ravine.
Spang, the passenger, was found alive, talking and badly injured. He was airlifted to a Billings hospital.
Birdinground, the driver, was dead. It’s still not clear why the couple crashed, though family members speculate Mylei may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Now, both Crow and Northern Cheyenne communities are in mourning over Mylei and sending prayers to Wylie.
“They were both kids and they didn’t deserve this. They had their whole lives ahead of them,” Fisher said.