Rangers rescue hiker with broken legs, respond to hiker death

Forest rangers rescue a hiker with two broken legs this past Saturday. (Provided photo — DEC)

Volunteers and forest rangers with the state Department of Environmental Conservation performed two wilderness rescues this past weekend — one for a hiker who was eventually pronounced deceased on Scarface Mountain, and another for a hiker from Saratoga Springs who was found on Giant Mountain Sunday with two broken legs.

On Sunday at 2:35 p.m., New York State Police received a report that a man in his 50s was unconscious on Scarface Mountain, according to the DEC. Police performed CPR and the hiker started breathing again, but he was still in an unstable condition. Forest ranger Lt. Joseph LaPierre and forest rangers Jenna Curcio, Chris DiCintio, Jamison Martin, Robbi Mecus, Robert Piersma and Scott Sabo, Jr. responded to the call with State Police Aviation, Saranac Lake Fire and Rescue, and a Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks team.

The hiker was pronounced dead at 4:46 p.m. Rangers performed a hoist operation to recover the man’s body, which was turned over to the Essex County coroner.

Giant Mountain

An injured hiker is airlifted to safety this past Saturday. (Provided photo — DEC)

On Saturday at 9:37 p.m., Ranger Robert Praczkajlo responded to a call about an overdue hiker, who’d apparently planned to climb Gothics Mountain, according to the DEC. Praczkajlo found the hiker’s car in the Roaring Brook trailhead parking lot a couple of hours later. That night, Praczkajlo combed the Roaring Brook Valley with Ranger Robbi Mecus, but they didn’t find the hiker.

The search culminated with 12 rangers and volunteers from the Adirondacks Climbers Association, who gathered the next morning to continue the search. They found the 53-year-old hiker on Giant Mountain at 10:10 a.m. on Sunday with two broken legs. Twenty-one rangers from DEC regions four, five and six helped carry the hiker out.

New York State Police Aviation — with Ranger Chris DiCintio acting as hoist operator — lifted the hiker out of the mountain range by helicopter. Inclimate weather forced the helicopter to land in Ray Brook, and the hiker was taken to the hospital by Saranac Rescue, according to the DEC.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos — who visited Keene on Monday to present the department’s 2022 initiatives for this year’s hiking season in the park — referenced the Giant Mountain ranger call as part of the department’s plea for public awareness of preparedness practices when recreating in the park.

“These are not areas to be trifled with,” Seggos said. “These are very serious wild places and very remote wild places. If you don’t go into the woods prepared, you’re really asking for trouble — or worse.”

— Managing Editor Elizabeth Izzo contributed reporting to this story.


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