Friday, March 8, 2019

Rescues, Fatality: Recent Forest Ranger Incidents

forest ranger logoNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks.

Essex County

Town of Keene
Rescue: On March 2 at 5:32 pm, two lost hikers on Mt. Marcy called DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance after they lost the trail in whiteout conditions. The hikers were directed to call 911 to obtain coordinates. After receiving this first set of coordinates, Forest Ranger Robert Praczkajlo directed the hikers to proceed back uphill. Through a series of calls, the hikers located the marked trail. Meanwhile, three Rangers left from the Adirondack Loj on snowmobiles to assist the hikers. Rangers made contact with the hikers at 11:46 pm, and by 12:55 am, all units were out of the woods and clear of the incident.

Town of Keene
Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) training: Forest Rangers recently hosted an evaluation process for Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) teams of the Appalachian Region. Forest Rangers and Appalachian Mountain Rescue (NC) team members and Neil Van Dyke of the State of Vermont’s Division of Public Safety/State Police assisted in the evaluation. The teams evaluated were: Stowe Mountain Rescue (VT); Allegheny Mountain Rescue (PA); and New Jersey Search and Rescue (NJ). MRA Teams are required to pass an evaluation every three years in wildland search skills and technical rescue skills in a four-season environment. All teams were tested and passed a technical evacuation from a high-angle, ice-filled gully, as well as a steep angle snow evacuation of an injured subject. Each team is scrutinized on details ranging from general mountaineering skills to patient care. On the second day, wildland search skills were tested with both a tabletop exercise and a lost person scenario. These evaluations keep each team on the same level across North America and provide for better partnerships and increased public safety.

Fulton County

Town of Oppenheim
Snowmobile Enforcement: On March 3 at approximately 11:30 am, while on snowmobile patrol in Lassellsville State Forest, Forest Rangers stopped a snowmobile with no registration sticker displayed. While interviewing a second snowmobile operator, the Rangers discovered the man was operating the snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol. The subject was arrested for snowmobiling while intoxicated (SWI) after a field sobriety test. He was transported to the State Police barracks in Fonda and turned over to a sober third party and released on appearance tickets returnable to the Town of Oppenheim Court on March 27.

Herkimer County

Town of Webb
Snowmobile Fatality: On March 3 at 10:56 am, DEC Dispatch received a call from town of Webb Police Department requesting assistance with a snowmobile fatality. DEC Forest Rangers and ECOs responded, along with New York State Police and Old Forge Fire Department personnel. The State Police investigation determined that a 59-year-old male from Rome was operating a 2019 Polaris snowmobile eastbound on Woodhull Lake, Black River Wild Forest, when he struck a large rock protruding through the ice. The snowmobile became airborne and the man was ejected. The subject was subsequently located by two members of his snowmobiling party, who contacted 911. The investigation is continuing.

St. Lawrence County

Town of Fine
Snowmobile accident: On March 1 at 2:42 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch was advised of a snowmobile accident on the St. Lawrence and Lewis County line. A 54-year-old subject had collided with a tree 11 miles back into the Aldrich Pond Wild Forest. Six Forest Rangers responded to the scene and medical personnel from Lewis County were flown in by helicopter to a location near the Harrisville Rod and Gun Club. From that location, these emergency responders were transported by snowmobile to the injured subject’s location. The subject was treated at the scene by the Harrisville Fire Department and emergency responders and transported out by a rescue toboggan to a waiting Life Flight helicopter. The subject was then transported to the hospital for further treatment. The incident concluded at 4:30 pm.

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.

Related Stories

Stories under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline come from press releases and other notices.

Send news updates and story ideas to Alamanck Editor Melissa Hart at

Comments are closed.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox