New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents throughout New York State. 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.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers.
Town of Arietta, Hamilton County
Fugitive Search: For the last five months, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Hamm, Nally, and Thompson assisted the U.S. Marshals Service in the search for a wanted fugitive from Gloversville. The 35-year-old had been living in the woods on State land in the town of Arietta, Hamilton County, with minimal outside contact. On Aug. 22 while on patrol, Rangers Hamm and Thompson spotted the subject camping near Chubb Lake. The Rangers contacted the Marshals who tracked the suspect for the next day and arrested them in Schenectady on Aug. 23 without incident. The suspect was wanted on a parole violation and suspicion of making bomb threats.
Town of Middlefield, Otsego County
Wilderness Recovery: On Aug. 23 at 10:30 a.m., Forest Ranger Cooley overheard radio traffic about a missing hiker. Otsego County Sheriff’s Department staged a command post. Officers were advised by the hiker’s coworkers that the 61-year-old’s car had been in the parking lot since Aug. 20, and that he was hiking Natty Bumppo’s Cave near Cooperstown, Otsego County, NY. Forest Ranger Cooley and Sheriff’s Deputies searched the trail to the caves and continued to the bottom of the cliffs. A Deputy called the subject’s cell phone and heard it ringing. At 12:00 p.m., Forest Ranger Cooley spotted a blue object in the woods, which turned out to be the deceased hiker. The subject was transported to the local coroner. Resources were clear at 2 p.m.
Town of North Hudson, Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 23 at 4:00 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch alerted Forest Rangers to an injured hiker on the Beckhorn Trail on Dix Mountain in the town of North Hudson, Essex County, NY. Rangers requested New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation. NYSP Pilot Beck flew Forest Rangers to the scene. At 5:40 p.m., Ranger Praczkajlo inserted Ranger Corey to the victim. Ranger Corey stabilized the hiker’s knee injury and then secured the 23-year-old from Rochester for a hoist. Ranger Praczkajlo hoisted the hiker into the helicopter so they could be flown to the hospital. Ranger Corey hiked the subject’s companion and their gear back to Elk Lake. Resources were clear at 9:45 p.m.
Town of Shandaken, Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 26 at 4:00 p.m., a hiking party called DEC’s Woodland Valley Campground to report one of the group had injured their ankle. The caretaker called Ray Brook Dispatch, which informed Forest Ranger Lieutenant Slade about the situation. Since the subject was approximately 3,300 feet up the trail, approximately a quarter mile from the Wittenberg Mountain summit in remote, rugged terrain, Lieutenant Slade called New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation for assistance. Rangers Horn and Sweeney hiked up to the 25-year-old from Brooklyn.
Rangers Fox, Kreft, and Stratton met NYSP Aviation at the Catskills Visitor Center. NYSP Pilots Leeder and Plitsch flew to the Wittenberg summit where Ranger Stratton inserted Rangers Fox and Kreft, who met up with Rangers Horn and Sweeney, splinted the injured ankle, and prepared the subject for a hoist. At 7:40 p.m., the hiker was hoisted and returned to the Catskill Visitors Center where Shandaken Paramedics provided an evaluation. Forest Rangers reached the campground with the remainder of the hiking party at 10:30 p.m. You can watch video of the hoist rescue here.
Town of North Elba, Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 26 at 5:26 p.m., Forest Ranger O’Connor responded to a call for a subject who had fallen off a bicycle while riding on the Peninsula Nature Trails in Lake Placid. Ranger O’Connor quickly reached the 66-year-old from Saranac Lake, who was bleeding from his head and complained about sharp pain from his forehead, elbow, and knee. The subject was not wearing a helmet. Forest Ranger O’Connor helped the subject to the trailhead. A Lake Placid ambulance transported him to the hospital. Resources were clear by 6:15 p.m.
Read past Forest Ranger search and rescue reports here.
Photo of Wittenberg Mountain rescue provided by DEC.