By Gwendolyn Craig
A 63-year-old Connecticut hiker, who went missing in the Adirondack Park High Peaks, was found deceased Friday morning, state police and Department of Environmental Conservation officials said.
Thomas Howard, a Yale-educated economist from Westport, Conn., was reported missing on March 16 after he had left for a hiking trip on March 11 in the Town of North Elba, according to a news release.
Officials located his car on Wednesday at the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondack Loj parking lot. Howard had signed in at the trail register stating his destination was Mount Colden via the Trap Dike. He anticipated returning on Sunday, March 13.
The Trap Dike has been the site of many emergency responses. Christopher Kostoss, Region 5 forest ranger captain, told the Adirondack Explorer in August that there is debate on whether the Trap Dike route is a hike or a rock climb. It is considered a Class 4 climb in the guidebook Adirondack Rock. Rescues there require technical equipment and expertise on the 4,715-foot High Peak.
“Either way, a fall or accident in the Trap Dike could mean a long duration rescue event and, worst case, could prove to be fatal,” Kostoss said.
New York State Police Aviation and DEC forest rangers used several means to search for Howard on Wednesday including air, sled and foot operations. Also assisting were DEC’s Emergency Management Unit, New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and trained rescue climbers, according to a news release.
Niece Jessica Paar described her uncle as an avid outdoorsman, particularly enjoying hiking and camping. Married with two daughters, he received a doctorate from Yale University and also graduated from Dartmouth College where he studied applied mathematics. His LinkedIn resume listed his experience in macro, energy and finance economics and skills in forecasting, econometrics and data analysis.
Paar said the Adirondack search and rescue efforts by the rangers and the response from the local community, from coffee shop operators to lodging owners, was much appreciated.
“The Howard family wishes to express their gratitude to the community and the searchers for their support,” the news release said. “The family asks for privacy as they grieve the loss of their loved one.”
The DEC and State Police did not provide more details on how Howard died or if he was found in the area of the Trap Dike.
Editors note: A previous version of this story included a State Police bulletin with Howard’s age as 61. He was 63.
James M. Odato contributed to this report.