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Forest Ranger Report: Missing boy found safely; Man dies on Mt. Marcy

June 12, 2008
By DEC Region 5
LAKE GEORGE — A 12-year-old Albany boy who was reported missing on Buck Mountain Tuesday was found hours later at a residence in Fort Edward.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation received a call from a teacher reporting that the boy from was missing from their class trip in the southeastern Adirondacks at approximately 3:20 p.m. Tuesday. The class, from the New Covenant School in Albany, had hiked to the summit of Buck Mountain on the eastern shore of Lake George.

The last confirmed sighting of the boy was at noon on the summit of the mountain, according to the DEC. He had returned to the summit unescorted to retrieve a bag he had left behind as the class was heading down the mountain.

Forest rangers, a state police helicopter, members of the Pilot Knob Volunteer Fire Department and volunteers from the Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue group all participated in the search for the boy, according to the DEC. A command post was set up at the Pilot Knob firehouse.

Two forest rangers were dropped off on the summit by helicopter to work their way down, according to DEC. Other forest rangers and volunteer worked their way up the mountain, while the helicopter with forest rangers on board searched from the sky.

Finding the boy was a high priority due to several reasons: his age and inexperience, his lack of proper gear and clothing for an extended stay in the woods, the heat, and pending heavy storms, according to the DEC. The pending storms also posed a danger to searchers.

The teacher, who remained at the command post, received a call sometime around 7 p.m. from the father of the student, stating that he was on the way to pick him up at a residence in Fort Edward. The teachers shared this information with the searchers.

A forest ranger lieutenant, state police and Fort Edward village police went to the house in Fort Edward to pick up the boy and interview the people who found him and the boy’s father and stepmother.

It was learned that the boy had walked down the north side of the mountain, ending up in the Shelving Rock area, according to the DEC. He encountered a group of people, (estimated some time between 5 and 6 p.m.) who provided him a cell phone to call his mother. The people then took him to their home in Fort Edward.

The boy was released to his father and stepmother at about 7:20 p.m.

Heart failure, High

Peaks Wilderness

DEC dispatch in Ray Brook received a phone call from state police at about 2:15 p.m. Thursday, May 29, requesting assistance in removing a deceased person at the Slant Rock Lean-to. The lean-to is located along the Phelps Trail to Mt. Marcy.

Paul Pawlak, 53, of Alden had spent the previous night in the lean-to with companions. On Thursday his companions were unable to wake him. Two DEC Forest Rangers hiked in to Slant Rock Lean-to while state police and forest rangers planned the removal effort. Due to high winds, a number of attempts to hoist Pawlak’s body out of the wilderness were unsuccessful. A forest ranger remained overnight with Pawlak’s body. On the morning of May 30, at approximately 7:50 a.m., Mr. Pawlak’s body was hoisted out by state police helicopter.

According to state police investigation Mr. Pawlak death was a result of natural causes. The coroner report indicates he died of congestive heart failure.

Injured hiker, Mt. Marcy

DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Essex County 911 at about 2:05 p.m. Friday, June 6, reporting an injured hiker on the trail to Mt. Marcy above Indian Falls. Four DEC forest rangers and the DEC Marcy Dam Outpost Caretaker responded to assist an unnamed 27-year-old female hiker from Montreal, Quebec. Due to weather conditions a state police helicopter was unable to assist in the removal and transport of the injured woman. The forest rangers and caretaker carried the woman down to Marcy Dam, where she was transported by a forest ranger truck via the Marcy truck trail to the trailhead at 9:51 p.m.


Johns Brook

The DEC Johns Brook Outpost Caretaker encountered a group of hikers near Johns Brook Lodge on Saturday, June 7 at about 5 p.m., who reported that one of the group was in distress. Elizabeth MacNeil, 51, of Ottawa, Ontario was one of nine hikers that spent the day hiking The Brothers, Big Slide Mountain and Yard Mountain from “The Garden” in Keene Valley.

Coming down Yard Mountain to Johns Brook Lodge, MacNeil complained of nausea and weakness and then began vomiting. The group slowly progressed to Johns Brook Lodge where they encountered the caretaker.

The caretaker radioed DEC dispatch and two DEC forest rangers responded to the situation. The caretaker escorted MacNeil to Johns Brook Outpost and had her rest, cool down, and rehydrate while awaiting the arrival of the forest rangers. The forest rangers escorted MacNeil to the trailhead, stopping frequently to allow her to drink and eat. She was released at the trailhead at approximately 8:20 p.m.

Missing campers, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

DEC Dispatch was contacted by the caretaker at DEC Putnam Pond Campground on Sunday, June 8 at about 10:30 p.m., who reported two overdue hikers. John Butler Jr. and Breg Barowski, two 18 year olds (hometowns not provided) staying at the campground, had not returned from a hike into the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. Two DEC Forest Rangers searched the trails and located Mr. Butler and Mr. Barowski at approximately 12:30 a.m. They were tired and bug bitten but otherwise in good condition.

Injured climber, Debar Mountain Wild Forest

DEC Dispatch received a call from Franklin County 911 on Saturday June 7 at about 7:30 p.m., reporting an injured climber on Azure Mountain. Two DEC Forest Rangers along with members of the St. Regis Falls and Dickinson Volunteer Fire Department responded to the incident. Joseph L Milkovich, 21, of Binghamton had been climbing and rappelling a large cliff at “The Amphitheater” with a companion. Milkovich had while walking across some talus at the bottom of a rappel. He tumbled 40 feet down a slope of talus and boulders injuring his left arm and right knee, and receiving cuts on his legs, arms and back. Forest rangers and rescue personnel worked through the night setting up a rope system and lowering Milkovich to the base of the rocks. He was placed in a litter and carried to a location accessible by ATV, which was use to transport him to ambulance at 4:50 a.m.. Milkovich was taken to Canton-Potsdam Hospital for medical treatment.


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