Local forest ranger mourned

Forest Ranger Chris Kostoss speaks Sept. 11, 2018 at the Lake Placid Conference Center about hiking regulations and initiatives in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. (Photo for the Enterprise — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — A local forest ranger died by suicide in Lake Placid on Tuesday.

Christopher Kostoss was a state Department of Environmental Conservation forest ranger captain in Region 5. He worked with the DEC for 23 years.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement Thursday that the department was mourning the loss of Kostoss. Seggos said Kostoss was passionate about protecting public safety, environmental conservation and that he “tirelessly” advocated for mental health awareness.

“His death is a painful reminder of the critical need to promote wellness and destigmatize issues surrounding mental health that prevent individuals from seeking treatment,” Seggos said.

Kostoss was a beloved member of the community. He participated in the North Country Walk to Fight Suicide (Out of the Darkness Community Walk) at the Olympic Speedskating Oval in 2019 with other forest rangers to raise awareness about suicide in the Adirondack Park and among first responders. Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn interviewed Kostoss about the walk that September. Kostoss said that responding to suicides in the park is one of the hardest parts of being a forest ranger, and he wanted to encourage a mental health support system among forest rangers and other first responders. Kostoss also promoted the importance of hiking preparedness at some public events, including one in Lake Placid in 2018.

Lake Placid Police Chief Chuck Dobson, whose department was the first to respond to the scene, said Tuesday was a “sad day.” Village police responded to the call at Lake Placid Club Way around 2:08 p.m. Tuesday, Dobson said, after a 911 call came in about a “possible suicide.” Dobson said village police, New York State Police, the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Services and the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call. State Police did not immediately respond for comment by deadline Thursday.

“The collective heartfelt thoughts of DEC’s close-knit family are with Captain Kostoss’ mother, two daughters, immediate family members and all who loved him,” Seggos said.

Those experiencing a mental health emergency can get help 24/7 by calling the Crisis and Recovery Center hotline at 518-483-3261. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. The New York state Office of Mental Health also has resources at omh.ny.gov/omhweb/bootstrap/crisis.html.


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