Tuesday, August 1, 2017

UPDATE: Missing Hiker’s Body Found Amid Busy Week of Adirondack Rescues

DEC Forest RangerUPDATED 5:45 PM, Wednesday, 8/2: The body of Ralph W. ‘Skip’ Baker, 50, of Rochester, the hiker missing in the Adirondack High Peaks since Sunday, was found about 11 am Tuesday, August 1, 2017 in a ravine near the east branch of the AuSable River in the town of Keene. Mike Lynch at Adirondack Explorer has the latest on that recovery.

The incident comes on the heels of another busy weekend for Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks during which they conducted several other successful searches, and several rescues. These included a 13-year old boy who survived a 25-foot fall at Shelving Rock Falls on the East Side of Lake George; three rescues by helicopter, including an overnight rescue from Bushnell Falls; and a carry-out from near the top of Bald Mountain.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. You can find all of DEC’s Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Reports here.

Essex County

Town of Newcomb
Wildland Search: On July 27 at 11 am, Franklin County 911 notified DEC Ray Brook Dispatch of a 26-year-old Riverhead man who was disoriented on the Huntington Wildlife Forest. The man had clear cell phone contact and was advised by Dispatch to stay where he was. DEC Forest Rangers Del Jeffery and Ben Baldwin arrived within 10 minutes and used siren blasts near the reported location from the cell phone call to alert the man. After several unsuccessful attempts to use sound attraction, both Rangers hiked toward the man’s likely location and made voice contact with him by 2 pm, safely returning the man to his vehicle by 3 pm.

Town of Keene
Wildland Rescue: On July 27 at 6:30 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from John’s Brook Interior Outpost regarding a 20-year-old Michigan woman suffering severe abdominal pain. She had been moved from Bushnell Falls to Johns Brook Lodge, where she was further monitored and spent the night. Her condition did not improve over night so she was moved to the DEC Johns Brook Outpost, where DEC Forest Rangers and a NYSP helicopter evacuated her to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

Town of North Elba
On July 30, 2017 at 11:30 pm a group of four hikers on the summit of Algonquin Peak contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance. The group consisted of an 18 year old from Chalfont, PA; an 18-year old from South Hampton, PA; a 20 year-old from and a 18-year old both from Landsdale, PA. The DEC Forest Ranger spoke to the group by phone. Upon learning they were not lost, none were injured or distressed and they had lights and other gear the Forest Ranger directed to the correct trail and their campsite.

On July 31, at 6:03 am the same group contacted DEC Central Dispatch via Essex County 911 and reported that members of the party had spent the night off-trail near the summit of Algonquin. They were dehydrated and ill and did not know their location. Essex County 911 was unable to obtain precise coordinates of the cell phone at that time. A Forest Ranger, assisted by the Lake Colden Interior Outpost Caretaker and the Algonquin Summit Steward, immediately responded and began to search for the group. At 11:06 am, Essex County 911 was able to obtain a set of coordinates on the west slope of Algonquin Peak. The coordinates were provided to the searchers via DEC Ray Brook Dispatch.

Searchers located the group of hikers at 11:27 am. It was determined that one member of the group was in such distress he was unable to return to the campsite on his own. A State Police Aviation Unit helicopter with a Forest Ranger on board assigned to the nearby search on Gothics was redirected to the Algonquin Rescue. The helicopter picked up the young man from the summit of Algonquin and transported him to Adirondack Medical Center Lake Placid. Forest Rangers escorted the remaining members of the group back to campsite at Marcy Dam.

Hamilton County

Town of Inlet
Wildland Search: On July 25 at 8 pm, Herkimer County 911 transferred a request to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch to find four lost campers from Limekiln Lake State Campground. Town of Inlet Police used sirens to attract the four Groton teenagers back to the road while two DEC Forest Rangers attempted to intercept the group. By 10:30 pm, Rangers made contact with the group, determined they were well enough to hike out, and escorted the four back to the campground without further incident.

Herkimer County

Town of Webb
Wildland Rescue: On July 25 at 4 pm, Herkimer County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a 66-year-old Honeoye Falls man who sustained a knee injury near the top of Bald Mountain. Forest Rangers Gary Miller and Luke Evans worked with local volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians to carry the injured man down one mile to a waiting ambulance. He was evaluated by ambulance personnel but was transported by his son to a hospital close to their home. All first responders were clear of the scene by 7 pm.

Warren County

Town of Johnsburg
Wildland Rescue: On July 26, Warren County 911 asked DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch to dispatch Rangers to Crane Mountain, where a man had suffered a knee injury. Six DEC Forest Rangers responded and determined the 71-year-old Brooklyn man needed to be hoisted from his remote location. A New York State Police helicopter from Albany responded and Rangers were able to harness and evacuate the man to a Johnsburg EMS ambulance. Garnet Lake Fire Department assisted with the rescue, helicopter landing and patient transfer.

Washington County

Town of Fort Ann
Wildland Rescue: On July 30 at 2:47 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Washington County 911 requesting assistance for a 13-year-old boy who fell approximately 25 feet while hiking near Shelving Rock Falls and sustained a leg and head injury. There was a nurse hiking nearby who was able to assist him until Forest Rangers, Fire Department and EMS crews arrived on scene. The teenager was brought out to an awaiting ambulance by Forest Rangers and West Fort Ann Firefighters. He was then evaluated by Fort Ann EMS and taken to a local hospital for further medical attention.

In a related incident at Bash Bish Falls on the New York/Massachusetts border

On July 27th at 12:30 pm, Columbia County Sheriffs located the body of a 21-year-old man from Ghent NY, who had fallen into the falls on Friday, July 25th. According to the Albany Times Union, the body was located with an underwater camera, but due to the location, Officers were unable to remove the man from the falls. In addition to Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, search and rescue efforts were conducted by the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department, Massachusetts State Police, Pittsfield Fire Department, Egremont Fire Department, Southern Berkshire Ambulance squad, New York State Police, Copake Fire Department, New York Fire Coordinator, Berkshire County Fire Coordinator and Fastracs Excavating of Red Hook.

Be Prepared: Properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. The Adirondack Almanack reports weekly Outdoor Conditions each Thursday afternoon.


Editorial Staff

Stories under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline come from press releases and other notices. To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




9 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    “On July 30, 2017 at 11:30 pm a group of four hikers on the summit of Algonquin Peak contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance. The group consisted of an 18 year old from Chalfont, PA; an 18-year old from South Hampton, PA; a 20 year-old from and a 18-year old both from Landsdale, PA. The DEC Forest Ranger spoke to the group by phone. Upon learning they were not lost, none were injured or distressed and they had lights and other gear the Forest Ranger directed to the correct trail and their campsite.”

    This one seems like a ridiculous waste or the rangers time? What kind of assistance did they want? When I was a kid this was called a prank call.

    • Paul says:

      So is this a listing of any call that they get?

      • Scott van Laer scottvanlaer says:

        No, definitely not a listing of any call. This group would later require a significant S@R response. The initial narrative just explains the first contact from the group with dispatch. Read further.

    • Jim S says:

      I happened to be on Algonquin on Monday. Those kids were beaten down and exhausted. It sounds so easy to climb mountains on the internet. It was fascinating to watch watch the coordination of the people taking calls from concerned relatives at the HPIC to the work of the rangers and the summit steward to help these kids. I have to say the helicopter landing on the summit took away some of the sense of “wilderness” we were experiencing (lol).

  2. Paul says:

    Sorry one more:

    “In a related incident at Bash Bish Falls on the New York/Massachusetts border”

    “Officers were unable to remove the man from the falls.”

    So they just left the body?

    • Bill Ott says:

      It looks like that is exactly what happened. The Albany paper linked to this article is good, I found a more complete account in a Pittsfield rag – the Berkshire Eagle. The address below should to get right to the clip. I cannot remember any similar stories; this one really need a follow-up.

      The falls are supposedly named after a Native American princess who fell to her death from the summit in the 17th century. (paraphrased from the Berkshire Eagle)

      http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/the-beauty-and-sometimes-danger-of-bash-bish-falls-where-mans-body-still-lies,515487

    • Fritzie says:

      If you look at the picture of the falls & realize the tremendous force & weight of the water, it makes sense why no person would even attempt to try a rescue until the water level recedes. Besides, no one knows if a tree trunk or roots are underwater in which a diver would become entangled. Many people go swimming & dive into innocent looking pools below lovely little waterfalls & some never come out because of hidden pieces of trees & roots swept there when streams were in flood stage. The currents are swifter than people realize & they get pulled into fatal situations.

  3. Taras says:

    My sincere condolences to Skip Baker’s family and friends.

    My thanks to the hard-working (and over-worked) DEC rangers who located the missing person within 48 hours (and a fair distance away from Gothics). Good work despite the tragic outcome.

    It now lies with the coroner to determine the cause of death and provide some closure for Mr. Baker’s bereaved family.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *