By Mike Lynch
Bruce Waite, a missing Bangor man whose body was found Thursday near Slush Pond in Paul Smiths, died of cardiac arrest due to exposure, according to state police.
Dr. C. Francis Varga conducted the examination and dental comparison at Adirondack Medical Center today, confirming Waite’s identification and cause of death. Franklin County Coroner Ronald B. Keough ruled the death to be accidental.
Waite had been missing for more than a month. A large-scale wildland search took place after his car was found on July 5 near Slush Pond. The large-scale search continued until July 13.
His body was finally found at about 11 a.m. Thursday by forest ranger Scott Van Laer in a swampy area a half-mile off the Slush Pond area.
Since the large-scale search ended, forest rangers have conducted about a dozen individual missions in the Slush Pond area with the hopes of finding Waite, according to forest ranger Lt. Julie Harjung.
Van Laer located Waite’s body 2 miles from where Waite’s 2004 Buick Century was found. It was in an area away from where people normally travel, Harjung said. There was no indication he was camping.
Harjung said that searchers had found five clues adjacent to Slush Pond Road during the search, but the items weren’t things one would expect to find for a trip in the woods. Harjung said Waite was an antique collector, and the personal items included old silverware and salt shakers. It wasn’t totally clear what he was doing in the area.
“The best I can you is that his family concerns about mental health, and we believe it contributed to his wandering,” Harjung said.
Harjung said he had been suffering mental health issues for at least the last six months.
Waite had been last seen on June 18 in St. Regis Falls, wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans. He was reported missing two days later.
During the eight-day wildland search for Waite, a command post was set up at by forest rangers at the Paul Smith Gabriel’s Volunteer Fire Department.
A total of 405 people spent 6,400 hours searching for Waite. The efforts included 27 forest rangers, state police, environmental conservation police officers, Paul Smith Gabriel’s Fire Department, Franklin County 911 services, Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks, and state Department of Corrections Response Team.
Helicopters, drones and K-9s also were used in attempt to locate Waite.
Harjung thanked “all of the folks that put heart and soul into the search.”