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For Release: Monday, March 21, 2016

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 3/14-3/20/16

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. 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 backcountry.

"Across New York, DEC's Forest Rangers' are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions which take them from remote wilderness areas, with rugged mountainous peaks to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide."

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Franklin County
Town of Waverly
Debar Mountain Wild Forest
Overdue Hiker:
On March 13, 2016, at 9:20 p.m. Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC Central Dispatch reporting an overdue hiker on Azure Mountain. A 26-year-old man from Cornwall Island, Ontario, Canada left the Azure Mountain Trailhead at 6:30 p.m. with a hiking partner to watch the sunset from the mountain's summit. The partner turned around before the summit and returned to the trailhead and their vehicle. When the man did not return to the vehicle by 8:30 p.m. the hiking partner called for help. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and searched the trails until 3:00 a.m. Search efforts continued at 7:00 a.m. on March 14, with eight Forest Rangers on the ground and a ninth ranger on board a State Police Aviation Unit helicopter. At 7:40 a.m., the team from the helicopter spotted the lost hiker near the summit. Forest Rangers on the trail reached him by 7:50 a.m. and determined he was in good condition. The Forest Rangers escorted the hiker and returned him to his hiking partner and vehicle at the trailhead by 9:00 a.m.

Greene County
Town of Hunter
Hunter-West Kill Wilderness
Injured campers:
On March 16, at 6:00 p.m. Greene County 911 received a call reporting two people camping near the yellow trail were struck by lightning off of Laurel House Road. The 26-year-old man and 27-year-old woman, both from New Jersey, set up a campsite in a hemlock grove about three-quarters of a mile from the North-South Lake Campground. Lightning struck two hemlock trees located about five feet away from where the two had pitched their tent. Three rangers responded along with the Haines Falls Fire Department, Hunter Ambulance, Tannersville Rescue Squad, Palenville Fire Department and Greene County Emergency Medical Services. Crews set up a command post at a DEC parking area on Schutt Road while responders hiked about a quarter of a mile into the woods amid rain squalls to reach the pair. They carried the man out on a litter with local fire and rescue personnel assisting. The woman walked out to an awaiting utility vehicle after being assessed and was then taken to the command post for further evaluation. An ambulance transported both patients to Albany Medical Center for further evaluation. The woman was released from the hospital on Wednesday night while the man remained in the hospital on Thursday for monitoring.

Dutchess County
Stanford, NY
Missing person:
On March 15, at 7:30 a.m. NYS Police contacted DEC Forest Rangers for assistance in searching for a 68-year-old man last seen at 5:00 p.m. the day before, and in possible need of medical attention. Responders set up a command center at the Stanfordville VFD and seven DEC Forest Rangers and a State Police Lieutenant searched trails and roads in the area on foot and using ATV's. Meanwhile, State Police and 20 volunteers searched a 150-acre area but did not find the man. The search intensified from March 16 to 17th with the NYS dive team checking local ponds with sonar. DEC Law Enforcement also searched the Buttercup Preserve on ATV's. An expanded search team of nearly 100 people searched a total of 1550 acres during those two days. On March 18, at 3:25 p.m., Rangers received word from State Police that surveillance cameras in Grand Central Station in New York City confirmed the missing man was there on March 14, 2016. The Dutchess County search ended at that time.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information.

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