Well-known Tupper Lake guide Vanessa “Lynn” Malerba has died just days after she was hit by a tree while camping in the Pharoah Lakes Wilderness in the eastern Adirondacks.
Marlerba, 60, had been tent camping with three other people on Rock Pond Friday night when she was hit by a tree. After being rescued by forest rangers and local firefighters, she was flown to a hospital in Vermont, where she was in critical condition. She has since died, according to the Vermont Department of Health. Time of death and other details were not available.
“Everybody in Tupper Lake is talking about it,” said Tupper Lake town supervisor Patricia Littlefield. “Oh, my gosh. She was very well thought of. She certainly made a mark in Tupper Lake.”
Littlefield recalled Malerba as a great athlete, teacher, and said that she had “a reputation as a wonderful hiker and guide.”
Malerba ran Adirondack Connections guide service in Tupper Lake. She taught physical education and coached for more than 20 years in the Tupper Lake and Long Lake Central schools before retiring in 2000 to start the guide service.
According to her website, Malerba was born in Lake Placid and pursued the outdoor traditions of her father and grandfather.
Malerba was an Adirondack 46er, a Northeast 111er, and acted as Long Lake Central School Outing Club coordinator from 2002-2005. She had been a director with the New York State Guides Association since 2006. The organization recognized her as a Master Guide.
According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Malerba started camping Thursday. On Friday night strong winds came through parts of the Adirondacks, downing trees and power lines. One of the gusts apparently felled the tree that pinned Malerba.
Initial attempts by fellow campers to call for assistance were unsuccessful as there is no cell phone service at the location.
One of two anglers camped nearby took a boat across Putnam Pond to the Putnam Pond Campground to get help. Still unable to get cell phone service, he headed out Putts Pond Road where he found members of the Chilson Volunteer Fire Department clearing trees from the road. The volunteer firefighters radioed for assistance and responded to the site.
DEC received notification of the incident at about 1 a.m. Saturday. The rescue crew found Malerba at about 2:30 a.m.
“With continued high winds and heavy rain, forest rangers and local fire department personnel worked together to remove a large tree that had pinned (Malerba),” according to a DEC press release. “She was packaged in a stokes litter, carried out to a boat, and brought across the pond to the Putnam Pond Campground Boat Launch, where she was turned over to Ticonderoga EMS.”
DEC reported that the incident concluded at 7:30 a.m.
Malerba was then flown by helicopter in Burlington, Vermont, for treatment.
“It’s just tragic that this happened,” Littlefield said. “The Tupper Lake community lost a great member, and she will be very much missed.”