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For Release: Monday, August 6, 2018

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 7/30 - 8/5/18

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 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.

In 2017, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 55 wildfires that burned a total of 191 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 564 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 tickets or arrests.

"Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said 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:

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
At 4:20 p.m. on July 30, a 48-year-old woman from Brooklyn slipped and fell on the yellow trail while hiking at Kaaterskill Falls between Upper Falls and the stone staircase. Rangers Robert Dawson and Christine Nelson responded to the call for assistance and located the woman. The Rangers assessed the woman's condition and identified an injury to her left ankle. The Rangers wrapped the ankle and provided crutches to aid the woman's return to the Laurel House parking lot. Upon arrival, the woman refused further medical care.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
At 10:03 p.m. on July 30, a call came in to Ray Brook Dispatch through Essex County 911 reporting an overdue group of hikers from Rochester attempting to climb Gothics Mountain. The group consisted of three males-46, 49, and 17 years of age-and one 13-year-old female hiker. The group reported back to their family at 3:30 p.m., that they had reached the summit by sending a text and photo. Two hours after their estimated time of arrival, the family became worried about the group's safety and requested Forest Ranger assistance. Under the authority of Lt. Christopher Kostoss, Forest Ranger Peter Evans was dispatched to the search. At 11:25 p.m., the group's vehicle was located at the AMR trailhead and the Ranger confirmed the hikers were climbing Gothics via the Beaver Meadow Falls Trail. Under the assistance of Bill O'Conner, the AMR Gate Keeper, Ranger Evans was given access to do a vehicle patrol search of the Lake Road where at 12:22 a.m., he located the party, exhausted from an extended day on the trails but otherwise in good health. The group was moving slower than expected due to one hiker's lower leg pain.

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Rescue:
At 11:37 a.m. on Aug. 1, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting an injured female hiker on Grass Pond Mountain near Lows Lake. The 45-year-old woman from Dover, Penn., and her companions were hiking the remote peak in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area when she sustained a shoulder injury. Under the authority of Lt. Jay Terry, Rangers Nathan Shea, Peter Morehouse, Will Benzel, and Robert Zurek were dispatched to aid the hiker back out of the woods. The hiking party was transported back to their vehicle at Lows lower dam, where they decided to seek further medical attention on their own.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Recovery:
At 4:31 p.m. on Aug. 3, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the Hamilton County Sheriff reporting an accident on Indian Lake near Moose Island. Under the authority of Lt. Kostoss, Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer responded to the scene. The call came into emergency services after a nearby boating party shouted to a local resident on shore to call 911. A boating party of three men from McKean, Penn., were out on Indian Lake when the operator struck an unmarked rock, ejecting a 60-year-old man from the boat. A multi-agency search effort was initiated by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, New York State Police, Forest Rangers, and the Hamilton County Dive Team. At approximately 7:30 p.m., the man was located by the dive team and pronounced dead at the scene by the Hamilton County Coroner. Hamilton County Sheriffs are investigating the incident. By 8:20 p.m., all units were cleared from the scene.

Town of Oxford
Chenango County
State Land Law Enforcement:
At 3:15 a.m. on Aug. 4, DEC Central Dispatch received a call from Chenango County Sheriff's Department regarding a large underage party on the Lyon's Brook State Forest. Three Rangers were assigned to assist Sheriff's Deputies and the Norwich Police Department to interview subjects at the scene, which resulted in the arrest of one individual for various felony drug-related charges. The case is being investigated by the Chenango County Sheriff's office.

Town of Deerpark
Orange County
Wilderness River Rescue:
At about 3 p.m. on Aug. 4, Forest Ranger Richard Franke was on a joint patrol of the Delaware River with National Park Service Rangers in a jet boat when a group of rafters notified the patrol that two people were calling for help. The group then found a 62-year-old woman from Lee Center in the water with her foot stuck in a river obstruction and her head just above water. The woman's 64-year-old friend was also struggling in a raft nearby. Due to recent heavy rains, the river level was high and the water was flowing fast. Ranger Franke entered the water wearing his personal floatation device with a line attached. The Ranger freed the woman's foot and assisted her into the raft. A rope was attached to the raft and both subjects were brought on board the National Park Service boat. Meanwhile, a second raft with seven individuals was caught in the same currents. Ranger Franke tied the raft to a tree and assisted each person, one by one, onto the National Park Service boat. Later that day, a third party with two people also capsized their raft upstream and were swept into the water. The Rangers rescued the pair. A total of 11 people were rescued and brought safely to shore.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
At 9:02 a.m. on Aug. 5, Hamilton County contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 911 call from a 51-year-old Auburn man near Tirrell Pond experiencing possible cardiac symptoms. The man had departed the O'Neill lean-to before his companions to get a head start when he began to experience shortness of breath less than a mile away. Under the direction of Ranger Lt. Brian Dubay, three Forest Rangers, a Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy, and the Indian Lake Fire Department responded. Ranger Jason Scott was first on scene at 9:48 a.m., and with Ranger Jenifer Temple, performed an initial patient assessment while waiting for Indian Lake EMS to arrive. At 10:40 a.m., the man was evaluated by Indian Lake EMS and then transported to his vehicle, where he declined further medical care.

Town of Fort Ann
County of Washington
Wilderness Rescue:
At 2:43 p.m. on Aug. 5, DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a woman whose friend on Sleeping Beauty Mountain was injured and unable to continue her hike. Per Lt. Dubay, Rangers Anthony Goetke and Evan Donegan responded with the West Fort Ann Fire Department, West Fort Ann EMS, and the Bay Ridge Fire Department for a rescue carryout. Ranger Goetke was first to reach the 25-year-old Malta woman at 4:13 p.m., just below the summit of Sleeping Beauty. He confirmed a lower leg injury. The hiker had slipped on a muddy section of trail and heard a snap in her ankle. She was packaged up and by 6:54 p.m., was at the trailhead and transported to the Glens Falls Hospital for treatment.

Town of Gardiner
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue
: At 11:17 a.m. on Aug. 5, Mohonk Preserve rangers contacted DEC Forest Rangers David Meade and Kevin Slade to assist with the rescue of a climber who reportedly fell 40 feet. Under Lt. Gregory Tyrrell's authority, five Rangers assisted with the technical rope rescue. The DEC Rangers were assisted by Mohonk Preserve Rangers, State Police, and the Gardiner Fire Department. The 22-year old Brooklyn man was climbing a 200-foot cliff face when he fell approximately 45 feet. The man was secured to a rescue litter and lowered to the base of the cliff, where he was transported to the hospital by a local EMS provider.

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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