LAKE PLACID - Volunteers and forest rangers are searching the Eastern High Peaks this morning for Lake Placid resident Russ Beede, a 63-year-old hunter who is believed to have walked into the woods off the Adirondack Loj Road Saturday morning.
"We believe he went into the woods on Saturday morning to hunt," said his wife Linda Beede. "But no one has seen him since."
In a statement issued this morning, state Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Dave Winchell said Beede's vehicle was located near the gate into the Adirondack Mountain Club's Adirondak Loj property at the southern end of the road. The Lake Placid police department, state police and DEC are all investigating the disappearance.
On Monday, forest rangers, members of the state police special operations team, the state police aviation unit and the environmental conservation police's K9 unit conducted ground and air searches throughout the day in the area around where Beede's vehicle was located.
Search efforts continue today with additional forest rangers and 20 volunteers from Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks and Lower Adirondacks Search and Rescue.
Beede, who is separated from her husband but has a good relationship with him, said he is believed to have arrived there in his Chevy pickup truck between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Saturday and that his landlord was the last person to see him that morning.
Beede is a retired North Elba town worker. He used to work at the North Elba Transfer Station, where he was employed as an attendant.
His wife said it was unusual for him to go hunting alone and that she wasn't aware that he liked to hunt in that area. He usually goes hunting in the South Meadow area, where there's easier walking, she said.
"I didn't think he hunted up there because ... he had a knee replacement a few years ago so his legs bother him," Beede said. "But it doesn't mean he didn't decide to go up there because there's a lot of deer sign up there."
Marcia Walton of Lake Placid is a friend of Beede's.
"He's very well known in the area," Walton said. "He's very well liked. He does have bad knees. He could have taken a fall."
This is the second major search in the area for a local resident in just over a year. On Nov. 20, 2010, 22-year-old Saranac Lake resident Wesley A. Wamsganz went hiking alone in the Adirondack Loj area after working the dayshift at the Downtown Diner in Lake Placid. An intense search that lasted eight days turned up few clues about Wamsganz's disappearance. He was last seen at Marcy Dam the evening he disappeared. His belt and jacket were later found, but searchers were unable to locate him.
State police, forest rangers and Lake Placid Police Department are investigating Beede's current or last-known whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to contact state police in Ray Brook at 897-2000.
Staff Writer Jessica Collier contributed to this report.