Environmental science

Adirondack rangers help find murder suspect, conduct overnight rescues amid busy week

Rangers used a wheeled litter to assist an injured hiker off Hurricane Mountain in the Adirondacks. Photo: NYSDEC

Forest rangers were busy last week in the Adirondacks, assisting in a murder investigation and conducting multiple overnight rescues in the mountains.

On Monday, a 53-year-old woman injured her knee while hiking down Hurricane Mountain. According to a report from the DEC, the woman was not able to put weight on her knee, so she was put in a litter and wheeled down much of the trail by seven rangers.

On Thursday, four forest rangers from the Adirondacks were among the law enforcement who responded to a murder in Tupper Lake. According to the DEC, two rangers found the murder suspect, 26-year-old Alexa Gallagher, who was then taken into police custody.

On Friday evening, a man and four young children were reported overdue from a hike in the Herkimer County town of Ohio. Six rangers searched the area around Ice Cave Mountain in the southwestern Adirondacks.

“The search area had no cell service, poor radio coverage, and posed many hazards even for experienced hikers,” according to a press release from the DEC.

Additional rangers, the state police and its K-9 team as well as members of the NYSP Special Operations Rescue Team joined the search. Two SORT members and a ranger found the group around 9 am on Saturday in a drainage north of Golden Stair Mountain.

According to the DEC, overnight temperatures dropped to 47 degrees and the children were cold and hungry. The man was taken in by the police for questioning.

There was a second overnight rescue in the Adirondacks from Friday evening into Saturday. A 72-year-old woman was hiking in the Johns Brook Valley in the High Peaks on Friday when she hit her face on a rock and suffered a dental injury.

The DEC says, due to exhaustion, the woman was unable to hold onto an ATV, so a ranger stayed with her overnight at the outpost before hiking out to the trailhead on Saturday morning.

On Sunday, a 52-year-old man was hoisted off the Northville Placid trail by a state police helicopter after suffering from chest pains. Rangers also responded on Sunday to two anglers stranded on Lake George after their boat washed ashore.

The busy week of searches and rescues in the Adirondacks comes amid an ongoing push from state representatives, union leaders and green groups in the Adirondacks to add more rangers in the park.

Dozens of ranger recruits are training in the Adirondacks this summer, both at the New York State Ranger School in Wanakena and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and are expected to join the ranger force later this year.

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