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For Release: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 5/23-5/29/16

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:

Essex County
Town of Keene
Sentinel Range Wilderness
Injured climber:
On May 23, 2016, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Essex County 911 notified DEC Ray Brook Dispatch of climbing accident on the Pitchoff Mountain Chimney Cliff along State Route 73 in the town of Keene, Essex County. A 22-year-old male climber from Eagleville, Pennsylvania fell 80 feet from the top of the Roaches on the Wall Route, sustaining severe traumatic injuries. Three DEC Forest Rangers, the Keene Rescue Squad and the Keene Valley Rescue Squad responded to the area. The first Forest Ranger to get to the injured climber provided advanced life support while awaiting the arrival of the other responders. After packaging the climber, the rescuers, with the assistance from another group of climbers and a DEC Backcountry Caretaker, used a rope system to carry him down the mountain side to a Keene Rescue Squad Ambulance. The ambulance transported the man to a landing zone where a LifeNet helicopter waited. The helicopter transferred him to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington for treatment.

Chautauqua County
Town of Chautauqua
Chautauqua Gorge State Forest
Lost hikers:
On May 23, 2016 at 10 p.m., Mayville authorities contacted DEC Forest Rangers for assistance in locating five lost hikers in Chautauqua Creek Gorge. The hikers accessed the gorge at around 7 p.m. to go hiking and swimming in the creek. When they tried to leave the area, they were unable to find their way out due to darkness, and called 911. A DEC Forest Ranger obtained cell phone coordinates for the lost hiking party from the dispatch center in Mayville, and worked with a Chautauqua County Sheriff Deputy and the Mayville Fire Department to form two search crews. They successfully located the lost hiking party and escorted them out of the gorge and back to their vehicles. There were no injuries. The incident concluded at 11:55 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest
Lost hiker:
On May 26, 2016 at 4:10 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker advising he had become separated from his hiking companion on Scarface Mountain. He reported last seeing the 69-year-old male from Binghamton, NY at 12:15 p.m. near the summit. DEC Forest Rangers responded and searched the mountain to the top from two different routes. Several calls were made to the missing hiker's cell phone, along with texts, which were unanswered. Additional Forest Rangers, Division of Law Enforcement K-9 unit, and New York State Police Aviation joined the search. The lost man eventually called Franklin County 911 which transferred him to Ray Brook Dispatch, but the phone coordinates provided were inaccurate. A Forest Ranger coordinated with NYSP Aviation to try and locate the man from the air. Rangers on the ground located him at 9:08 p.m. and escorted the hiker to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 9:35 p.m.

Town of Keene
Giant Mountain Wilderness
Injured hiker:
On May 27, 2016 at 3:50 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Essex County 911 for a 55-year-old woman from Owens Mills, MD with a possible upper-arm injury on the Nubble Mountain Trail. The woman reported she was a 1/2 mile from Chapel Pond past the Washbowl. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the Nubble Mountain Trail from Route 73 and located the woman at 4:47 p.m. They provided her with First Aid and escorted her out to the road where she said she would seek medical attention on her own. The incident concluded at 4:58 p.m.

Town of Wilmington
Wilmington Wild Forest
Injured angler:
On May 28, 2016 at 11:10 a.m., DEC Forest Rangers overheard radio traffic from Essex County 911 reporting an incident with an 82-year-old man from Poughkeepsie, NY who fell 30 feet while fly fishing on the Ausable River near Whiteface Mountain. The angler sustained multiple injuries and needed assistance. Forest Rangers and the Wilmington Fire Department performed a technical rope rescue and successfully retrieved the man. They escorted him out to a waiting Wilmington EMS ambulance which transferred him to an area hospital for additional medical treatment. The incident concluded at 12:39 p.m.

Town of Keene
Dix Mountain Wilderness
Injured climber:
On May 28, 2016 at 8:20 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Essex County 911 for a 28-year-old man from Philadelphia, PA who fell approximately 30 feet while climbing the Lower Beer Walls Blacksmith Route. The climber sustained a non-weight bearing lower-leg injury. DEC Forest Rangers, with the assistance of a technical rope rescue volunteer, reached the man at 9:09 p.m. and administered First Aid. Aided by Forest Rangers and others, the man was able to make his way down to the trailhead where he said he would seek medical attention on his own. The incident concluded at 9:45 p.m.

Cattaraugus County
Town of Persia
Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area
Lost child:
On May 28, 2016 at 2:45 p.m., two women found an unaccompanied 5-year-old child while hiking along the South branch of Cattaraugus Creek in Zoar Valley. They left the child with a DEC Assistant Forest Ranger, who searched along the creek area and questioned hikers along the way to try to locate the child's mother. At 3:00 p.m., the Ranger successfully reunited child with her mother and other siblings.

Town of Keene
Dix Mountain Wilderness
Distressed hiker:
On May 29, 2016 at 12:29 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 45-year-old man from Bernardsville, NJ in medical distress. The man became ill while hiking Noonmark Mountain with his family. DEC Forest Rangers responded and assisted the man to the trail head to a Keene Valley EMS ambulance. The ambulance transported him to an area hospital for additional medical assistance. The incident concluded at 2:22 p.m.

Herkimer County
Town of Webb
Five Ponds Wilderness
Distressed camper:
On May 29, 2016 at 3:39 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 30-year-old woman in medical distress at a campsite on Stillwater Reservoir. DEC Forest Rangers responded and transported the woman by boat across the Stillwater Reservoir. The woman was taken by Lewis County Search and Rescue EMS to a local area hospital for additional medical treatment. The incident concluded at 4:23 p.m.

Ulster County
Town of Denning
Sundown Wild Forest - Peekamoose Blue Trail
Lost group of hikers:
On May 29, 2016 at approximately 8:45 p.m., Ulster County 911 contacted DEC Central Dispatch reporting five lost hikers on the Blue Trail in Peekamoose, Town of Denning, including one adult and four children from Astoria, NY. They began their walk at the Bangle Hill trail head just across the road from Peekamoose "upper field" Camping area and became disoriented when darkness set in. At that time, the 39-year-old adult female contacted Ulster 911, and DEC Forest Rangers responded to the area where they discovered that four NYC Department of Environmental Protection Units and two State Trooper Units were already on scene and had begun hiking into the last location they had for the group. At approximately 10:40 p.m. the rescue team made contact with group and escorted them to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 11:45 p.m.

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

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