Forest rangers rescue lost hikers

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 9/24 – 9/30/18

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 Parish
Oswego County
Wildland Search:
On Sept. 26 at approximately 11 p.m., New York State Police out of Fulton requested Forest Ranger assistance in a search for a 49-year-old woman who had last been seen at her residence. On the morning of Sept. 27, Rangers Scott Jackson, Jeremy Oldroyd, and Mike Chappell convened at the State Police barracks in Pulaski and organized a search mission with NYSP and members of the New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams. Ranger Jackson requested three Forest Rangers and Howard Thomes, Greg Hoag, and Dave Cornell were dispatched. At approximately 9 a.m., the woman was located in good health in a barn within the search area. NYSP investigated the circumstances and all Forest Rangers were demobilized from the incident.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wildland Search:
On Sept. 27 at 7:02 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Warren County 911 reporting a 46-year-old woman from Greenwich lost while hiking 5th Peak in the Tongue Mountain Range. Under Lt. Christopher Kostoss’ authority, two Rangers were dispatched to retrieve the subject. Rangers Nancy Ganswindt and Charles Kabrehl traveled by boat from Green Island to access an area where coordinates placed the subject. The hiker was located in good condition by 9:37 p.m., escorted out of the woods, and provided transport by boat to Green Island and back to her vehicle at Clay Meadows. The incident concluded at 10:40 p.m.

Town of Whitehall
Washington County
Wildland Search:
On Sept. 28 at 9 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received notification from Lt. John Solan of a State Police request to assist in a search for a 75-year-old man from Whitehall reported missing by family members. NYSP initially searched outlying areas with K-9 and aviation assets. Seven Rangers were dispatched to conduct a search. A New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision crew heard the subject yelling for help near an open marsh. The subject was located cold and wet. He was rehydrated, fed, and transported by a Skeneborough Ambulance to Rutland, Vt., for treatment.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wildland Rescue:
At 11:53 a.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call from Greene County 911 reporting an injured 68-year-old man from Freeport that had fallen approximately 20 feet near the lower falls at Kaaterskill Falls. Four Rangers and two assistant Rangers responded, along with members of Hunter Ambulance, Greene County Paramedic, Haines Falls Rescue, and Twin Cloves Rescue. After an assessment, the subject was able to walk out to the trailhead with assistance. At the trailhead, the man declined further medical treatment and sought further treatment on his own. Responders were clear of the incident at 1:45 p.m.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wildland Rescue:
At 5:36 p.m. on Sept. 30, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting his partner had injured his knee descending a steep, eroded section of the Mount Adams Trail. The 71-year-old hiker was located less than a quarter mile from the summit of the peak and was unable to put any weight on the leg. Under the authority of Lt. John Solan, several Forest Rangers and one assistant Forest Ranger were requested to assist with a night carry-out of the injured party. At 10:08 p.m., Forest Rangers arrived at the hiker’s location and provided patient care. Once the patient was stabilized and secured in a litter, Rangers began the difficult carry out to a staged six-wheeler at the base of the mountain. With slippery, steep, and hazardous conditions, the rescue required low-angle rope rescue techniques. At 1:20 a.m. on Oct. 1, the man from Tolland, Conn., was out of the woods and Newcomb Volunteer Ambulance transported him for further medical treatment.

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

About Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a multimedia reporter for the Adirondack Explorer. He can be reached at Sign up for Mike’s newsletter

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