Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rangers Recover Body Amid Busy Holiday Weekend

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 Elizabethtown
Wilderness Rescue: On July 2 at 1:43 pm, Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from hikers on Owls Head Lookout in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area reporting a 25-year-old female hiker from Hamilton, Massachusetts, exhibiting signs of heat stress. Coordinates obtained through Essex County 911 placed the hikers on the 2,500-foot summit. Forest Rangers Kevin Burns, Peter Evans, and Lt. Julie Harjung initiated a rescue plan and coordinated with New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation Unit in Lake Clear. Additional Forest Rangers Mark St. Claire, Glen Bronson, and Charles Kabrehl staged with Keene/Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue teams and Elizabethtown Fire Department personnel to assist with a carry-out if needed. After locating the subject near the summit, Ranger Evans and Lt. Harjung were lowered in by helicopter and found the hiker conscious and responsive. After the hiker was evaluated and stabilized, they placed her in a litter and evacuated her to a local hospital by 3:40 pm for further medical treatment.

Town of Minerva
Wilderness Rescue: On July 3 at 2:45 pm, NYSP in Albany contacted DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a broken cell phone call from lost hikers along the Hudson River in Minerva. Forest Ranger Benjamin Baldwin was dispatched to respond to the 911 coordinates given. The two lost hikers, a 14-year-old boy from Gansevoort and a 15-year-old boy from Delray Beach, Florida, confirmed they had been separated from their group while hiking the Blue Ridge Trail. Text contact was established with the hikers and they were directed to stay in place. At 3:55 pm, Forest Ranger Baldwin met with a mother of one of the boys at the trailhead while the father looked for the boys by the river. Forest Ranger Mark St. Claire followed a nearby route. Forest Ranger Baldwin located the boys at 4:41 pm, in good health approximately two miles from where they separated on the trail.

Town of Keene
Wilderness Recovery: On July 3 at 8:14 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 reporting a hiker who spotted a deceased person at the bottom of the Cascade Waterfall at Cascade Day Use Area. Forest Rangers, NYSP, local fire departments, Keene/Keene Valley Back Country Rescue, and Keene/Keene Valley EMS were dispatched to the scene. Upon arrival, Forest Rangers confirmed the report and developed a recovery plan. After documentation of the scene, the Essex County Coroner authorized the recovery of the body. The incident remains under investigation by NYSP with help from DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) unit. Utilizing steep angle rescue techniques, the body was lowered to the parking area below and transported to a local hospital at 10:48 pm. The incident remains under investigation.

Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On July 5 at 4 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from Assistant Forest Ranger Ethan Engel that a 22-year-old female hiker from West Seneca had sustained an ankle injury at the Lake Colden Dam. Forest Ranger James Giglinto responded and met the NYSP Aviation Unit in Lake Clear. Lake Colden Caretaker, Wade Bastian, responded with a rowboat to assist with retrieving the injured hiker. The hiker was brought back to the outpost, where the NYSP helicopter successfully picked her up and transported her to a local hospital for further treatment. At 4:40 pm, while the helicopter was en route to the hospital with the first hiker, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a phone call from a 36-year-old male hiker from Cambridge, Massachusetts, who had sustained a non-weightbearing ankle injury while hiking McKenzie Mountain in the Town of St. Armand. Forest Ranger Scott VanLaer responded to Lake Placid Airport to meet NYSP Aviation. Coordinates were obtained through Essex County 911 and Forest Ranger VanLaer was lowered down to the trail, where he located the injured hiker. From there the hiker was secured into a harness and raised back up into the helicopter by Forest Ranger James Giglinto. VanLaer remained on the ground where he escorted the remaining members of the hiking party to the parking lot. Aviation delivered the injured hiker to a local hospital where he received further medical care.

Clinton County

Town of Dannemora
Wilderness Rescue: On July 4 at 9:51 pm, NYSP in Plattsburgh contacted DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an adult with two children from Ellenburg Depot were lost on Lyon Mountain. Dispatch texted the lost hikers requesting they call 911 for coordinates. Forest Rangers David Russell and Scott Sabo responded and began hiking to the reported coordinates. The subjects were located at 12:12 am, in good condition sitting beside a campfire. Forest Ranger Russell helped the hikers extinguish the fire and brought them back to the trailhead by 1:50 am.

Franklin County

Town of Dickinson
Wilderness Rescue: On July 5 at 6:44 pm, radio communications came in to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from Forest Ranger David Russell who overheard radio traffic from Franklin County 911 regarding an ATV accident in the Deer River State Forest. Forest Ranger Russell responded to assist NYSP and Franklin, Bangor, and Malone EMS with the accident involving a 16-year-old female and 17-year-old male from Plattsburgh. The two teenage riders were reported as traveling at excessive speed. At 7:54 pm, the teens were transported to a local hospital for additional medical care and were reported to be in serious condition.

Warren County

Town of Johnsburg
Wilderness Rescue: On July 3 at 4:06 pm, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office advised DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch of a female hiker on Crane Mountain with an ankle injury. Four Forest Rangers responded, and at 6:09 pm, Forest Ranger Charles Kabrehl met up with the hiker from Grandville, Michigan, and advised dispatch. The hiker had a non-weightbearing leg injury in a steep section of trail that would involve a technical rope rescue. With limited daylight remaining, NYSP Aviation was requested to respond for a hoist operation. The Garnet Lake and Johnsburg fire departments established a nearby landing zone for the helicopter. Forest Ranger Ian Kerr boarded the helicopter as hoist operator and by 8:25 pm, the hoist was successfully completed. The hiker was taken to the landing zone and transferred to Johnsburg EMS for transport to a local hospital.

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.

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4 Responses

  1. Vanessa says:

    Yikes! I may be having a real “pot calling kettle” moment here, but that’s a lot of ankle injuries. 🙁 I do wonder if those folks had real hiking boots or not. In the photos from an Explorer article about Frontcountry stewards, I was seeing a lot of sneakers…

    Kudos to the rangers for helicopter rescues tho 🙂

    • Suji says:


      Considering the large number of hikers on the trails these days, that is really not such a lot of ankle injuries. I have read the same article you looked at (from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise) and while there were people wearing sneakers, it is possible they had brought hiking boots to change into once they got to their trailhead. A personal reflection: on one of my trips up Marcy, I wore high-top Chuck Taylors instead of my usual hard leather alpine boots. It was a hot day, July 4th. On the way back down a steep slope, I caught my foot on a root across the path, and fell forward. I believe that had I been wearing those hard boots instead of the flexible Chuck Taylors, I would have broken my ankle, or at the very least had a bad sprain. When we got to Marcy Dam, the ranger bawled me out : “You! A 46er and wearing sneakers!” I felt appropriately chastised, but thought of all the porters I met in Nepal who carry 150 pound loads on their backs while wearing only flip-flops.

      • John Warren says:

        How do you know that this report includes all the ankle injuries? It doesn’t. It’s a random selection of forest ranger missions.

        You’re using the same evidence that informs the rest of your ideas about the necessity for proper footwear – nothing more than your own personal experience. Thankfully your influence doesn’t reach beyond that of a random internet commenter.

        • suji says:


          I was expressing my own one-time personal experience (from 25 years ago) and nothing else. I apologise for having offended you. BTW, I usually wear boots and proper clothing, and encourage others to do the same.

          Thank you for your work. It is appreciated.

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