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For Release: Monday, July 24, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

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, rangers locate and extract lost, injured, or distressed people from the backcountry.

In 2016, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 356 search and rescue missions, extinguished 185 wildfires that burned a total of 4,191 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 Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques is 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:

Cattaraugus County
Town of Persia
On July 15, at approximately 4:00 p.m., a 25-year old female and a companion left the Valentine Flats parking area to hike the Zoar Valley Unique Area. After spending a short time in the gorge the two subjects attempted to hike back to the parking area. The steep incline and exhaustion from an illness prevented the female hiker from being able to make the climb out. The subjects returned to creek level in search of another exit but were unable to find one. At that time, they placed a call to 911 for assistance.

Forest Ranger Rogers responded, and with a member of the Gowanda Rescue squad, climbed down to the subject. After a quick assessment, it was determined that the high water levels from recent rains would make a hike out too difficult. A technical rope system was set up to extract the subject. After applying a harness to the subject, Ranger Rogers and the Gowanda firefighter were raised out of the gorge by a haul system consisting of the Gowanda and Eden Rescue personnel. The incident concluded at 10:20 p.m.

Putnam County
Town of Cold Spring
On July 16, at approximately 6:53 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call from the New York State Park Police requesting Forest Ranger assistance with the recovery of a deceased male subject found by a hiker at the base of a cliff on Breakneck Ridge, Putman County. Due to the hazardous terrain and safety of personnel, the victim was extracted the following morning. At 8:00 a.m. on July 17, Forest Rangers and Park Police set up a technical rope system to lower Rangers to the body. Forest Rangers recovered and transported the victim to the medical examiner. The cause of death is being investigated by State Park Police.

Washington County
Town of Fort Ann
On July 18, at 7:39 p.m., DEC Ray Brook dispatch received a transferred call from Warren County 911. The caller stated he was lost on what he believed to be Buck Mountain in Fort Ann. After getting coordinates and interviewing the subject, it was determined that he was actually on the west side of Pilot Knob. Two rangers responded to the trailhead and began bushwhacking to the subject. The ill- prepared subject did not have a flashlight, map, compass, or warm clothes. The Rangers located the subject and rehydrated him. The subject was then assisted back to the trailhead.

Essex County
Town of Keene
On July 19, at 12:23 p.m., DEC Ray Brook dispatch received a transferred call from Essex County 911. A female bystander reported a 72-year-old male from Fairport, NY, with possible cardiac distress. The man advised that he had a history of cardiac issues and reported his location at the junction of the trail for Rooster Comb and Hedgehog Mountains. Under Lt. Platt's authority, three Rangers and one assistant Ranger were dispatched. The four Rangers arrived on scene at 12:45 p.m. The assistant Ranger hiked into Rooster Comb to assess the subject. Two Rangers met New York State Police Aviation at Marcy Field in Keene for a possible hoist. One Ranger was inserted onto Rooster Comb Mountain. The subject began walking down the mountain prior to Ranger insertion. Rangers caught up with the subject who continued to descend. The hiker was evaluated, escorted to the trailhead, and advised Rangers that he would seek medical follow up on his own.

Essex County
Town of Elizabethtown
On July 19, at approximately 5:45p.m., DEC Ray Brook dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 requesting assistance for a 25-year-old female who sustained a fracture to her leg while swimming in Split Rock Swimming Area. Elizabethtown EMS, Elizabethtown Fire Department, and Keene Valley Back Country Rescue were also called to the scene. Rangers utilized a technical rope system to set up a steep angle raise to extract the subject. The subject was then taken via ambulance to a nearby landing zone and flown by Life Net to Burlington, Vermont, for further medical attention.

Greene County
Town of Hunter
On July 19, at 2:50 p.m., Forest Rangers overheard a radio report of an injured 49-year-old female at Kaaterskill Falls in the area of the middle pool, at the bottom of the upper section of falls. While the subject was wading in the area and walking on some wet rocks, she slipped and fell two to three feet onto a rock in the pool, resulting in an ankle injury. Several Rangers in the area responded, accessing the area via the Laurel House Road trailhead. Forest Rangers, along with members of the Haines Falls Fire Department, Tannersville Fire Department, and Hunter Police stabilized the injury, packaged the subject into a stokes litter, and carried her out to the Route 23A trailhead. A town of Hunter ambulance transported the subject to Columbia Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Essex County
Town of North Elba
On July 19, at 7:08 p.m., DEC Ray Brook dispatch received a call from a hiker on the trail to Mount Marcy who stated he had located a 51-year-old female hiker suffering from heat exhaustion. The caller walked approximately one mile to Marcy Dam where he was able to get cell phone service. Dispatch directed the caller to assist the subject to the Marcy Dam Outpost. Two Forest Rangers responded via UTV and located the subject. One Ranger assessed the subject and administered first aid. Following rehydration, the subject reported feeling better and decided to continue her camping trip. The Ranger informed her that if further assistance was needed she should contact Ray Brook using the radio at Marcy Dam Outpost.

Herkimer County
Town of Webb
Campground Larceny:
On July 19, at approximately 4:50 p.m., DEC Ray Brook dispatch was contacted by a Campground Security Worker at Nick's Lake DEC Campgound requesting that Rangers respond to a report of a stolen kayak. The kayak had been taken without permission by three 20-year-old males. Two Rangers responded and located the group with the stolen kayak in their possession. Upon attempting to interview the subjects, one became unruly and had to be restrained. The town of Webb Police also responded. The remaining two subjects were interviewed and subsequently taken into custody for possession of alcohol underage, as well as Petit Larceny. The three subjects were transported to the town of Webb Police Department for processing and arraignment.

Essex County
Town of Ticonderoga
On July 21, at 6:21 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance in locating a 60-year-old male from Patchogue, who had overturned his paddleboard on Lake George and not resurfaced. Two Rangers responded to Baldwin Road in Ticonderoga to assist in the search. Several additional agencies and a dive team were on scene with boats looking for the subject, along with local fire department personnel and DEC Environmental Conservation Officers. Agencies searched well into the night before being suspended with plans to resume the following morning.

On July 22, at 7:20 a.m., the subject was located deceased and submerged roughly 300 feet off shore in eight to 10 feet of water. The Warren County Dive Team extracted the body with assistance from the Lake George Park Commission and Forest Rangers. The body was brought to shore and turned over to the Essex County Coroner at 9:10 a.m. The Ticonderoga Police Department is handling the investigation.

Washington County
Town of Dresden
On July 21, at 10:00 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a group eight hikers from Parlin, NJ. The group was having difficulty descending Black Mountain. The subjects were on the trail but had no water, inadequate lighting, and were suffering from dehydration. Two members of the group hiked out to the road to get assistance for the others, and returned with supplies. One additional hiker contacted Ray Brook for assistance. A Forest Ranger responded, arriving on scene at 11:00 p.m., and met the reporting party after hiking 1.5 miles up Black Mountain. After rehydration of the subjects and providing lights for the individuals, the Ranger walked the group back to the trailhead. One subject was severely dehydrated with muscle cramps in her feet and legs, but declined medical attention. At the trailhead, the subjects declined further medical attention. The incident concluded at 12:12 a.m.

Franklin County
Town of Belmont
On July 22, at 3:00 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to assist the Owls Head Fire Department with a possible drowning on Indian Lake in northern Franklin County. At about 2:00 p.m., while riding in a motorboat, a male subject entered the water and became distressed. Attempts to rescue him failed. The subject had been underwater approximately 1.5 hours upon the Ranger's arrival. Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Officers supported underwater search efforts that ended at 8:00 p.m. with negative results.
On Sunday July 23, search efforts resumed at 7:00 a.m. The subject was located at 9:29 a.m., by sonar and recovered at 9:58 a.m. The subject was turned over to the Franklin County Coroner's office. State Police are leading the investigation.

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