HILLSBORO, N.D. — A father and 1-year-old daughter who were missing after a house fire near Hillsboro Thursday, April 9, have been found dead in the remains of their home.
Authorities on Friday afternoon retrieved the bodies of 35-year-old Adam Gettel and his daughter, Anja, Gettel’s sister said on social media. She would later tell WDAY News that her brother’s body was covering the 1-year-old, suggesting he was protecting her.
Gettel and his daughter had been missing since their home 3 1/2 miles east of Hillsboro went up in flames early Thursday morning. Fire crews responded to the blaze around 3 a.m. after a sheriff’s deputy spotted the flames, according to Traill County Sheriff Steve Hunt.
Efforts to find and recover Gettel and his daughter’s bodies were slowed as the fire continued to smolder for most of Thursday. Hunt said two bodies recovered after the fire were sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Grand Forks for an autopsy.
Authorities are still working to learn what caused the fire. The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is involved in the case.
In 2017, Gettel was the focus of a WDAY feature about an orphaned goose that grew so attached to him, it'd fly beside his pickup as he drove to work. Watch a video of that feature below.
Hillsboro is about 40 miles north of Fargo.