Crews still searching Paul Smiths area for Bangor man

State forest ranger Lt. Julie Harjung, who is leading the search for a Bangor man missing in the Paul Smiths area for three weeks, points at the areas ground crews have searched in the Slush Pond Road area. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

PAUL SMITHS — Searchers from several state agencies continued to look for a missing Bangor man in the woods around Slush Pond Road Tuesday with no new findings, according to Department of Environmental Conservation officials.

Bruce K. Waite, 48, has been missing for over three weeks now and was last seen in the St. Regis Falls area by a local resident. Then on Thursday, July 5, a civilian informed police that a 2004 Buick Century was found slightly off the side of Slush Pond Road, narrowing the search. The car was registered in Waite’s name.

Over the weekend, crews of DEC forest rangers, state police, DEC police, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision workers, State Police Aviation, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Franklin County Emergency Services, Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks, Paul Smith Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department and volunteers set up a command station at the Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department and began a Type 3 wilderness search, according to forest ranger Lt. Julie Harjung, who is leading the search as incident commander.

A Type 3 search means groups stay close enough to see one another’s feet, keeping tight in thickly wooded areas and spreading out in open areas.

“For a hunter search, typically we would not go to a Type 3 search. We would go much farther apart and call to him or use a siren in a vehicle,” Harjung said. “But for someone that’s been missing this long, we’re not expecting he’s going to be very responsive and be able to yell back to us, so we’re trying to physically look at each piece of ground.”

Bruce Waite (Photo provided by New York State Police)

Where searchers can’t walk is canvassed by drones or canoes. Harjung said this is the second year of drone use in missing persons cases and her first search with them.

Harjung said searchers found some of Waite’s personal belongings around 1,700 feet away from his car, and he had a couple of fishing poles in the car. She has been informed that Waite has camped and fished in St. Regis Falls before.

Asked why Waite went missing, Harjung said searchers have information from his family that they are considering.

Waite was described as a white man, 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 145 pounds, with dark hair, a graying beard and brown eyes. He has a tattoo of a spider skull on his left hand and a tattoo of a bear on his left shoulder. He was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans.

Harjung said if anyone camping in the area, especially around the 4th of July, saw something strange or noticed any sign of Waite call state police at 518-873-2750.

Thursday’s article urged volunteers to call a DEC number to get involved. That number was the emergency line and should not be called. Citizens unfamiliar with the backcountry, hiking or bushwhacking should not volunteer as they may put themselves in danger.

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