Forest Ranger searches & rescues

The following are the statewide actions for the state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers for the week of Feb. 10 to 23.

Town of Allen

Allegany County

Flat Ice Rescue Training: On Feb. 13, Region 9 forest rangers conducted a flat-ice rescue training on Allen Lake, a popular destination for water-based recreation in the Allen Lake State Forest.

Rangers practiced rescuing a victim from the water using throw ropes, reach poles, and self-extraction, and simulated rescuer techniques including the use of an inflatable kayak. Forest ranger John Kennedy utilized a new technique by maneuvering an UAV drone to drop a personal flotation device to help secure a victim before other rescuers extracted him from the ice.

DEC reminds New Yorkers to be safe when heading out on the ice. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. For more information about being safe on the ice, go to DEC’s Ice Fishing website.

Village of Mayville

Chautauqua County

Public Outreach: On Feb. 15, Forest ranger Nathan Sprague attended Chautauqua County’s Ice Castle Festival in the village of Mayville.

Sprague, along with state police, state park police, and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department, displayed agency snowmobiles, spoke with attendees about snowmobile safety, and patrolled the area for safety compliance.

Approximately 1,000 people attended the ice festival.

Town of Clifton

St. Lawrence County

Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 15 at 10:02 a.m., St. Lawrence County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch reporting a snowmobile accident on the Grass River Easement in the town of Clifton.

Forest rangers Will Benzel, Peter Morehouse, and Nathan Shea responded to the location to assist Cranberry Lake Fire and Rescue.

A 26-year-old male snowmobiler from Pennsylvania sustained significant injuries after being ejected from his snowmobile after hitting a tree.

At 12:15 p.m., the man was flown by Life Flight to a nearby hospital and all personnel were cleared of the scene.

Town of Wilmington

Essex County

Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 21 at 3:49 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a request to assist a 56-year-old male and an 18-year-old male from Boston, Massachusetts, who became disoriented after out-of-bounds skiing at Whiteface Mountain.

Forest rangers Kevin Burns and Rob Praczkajlo arrived on scene at 4:09 p.m. and began interviewing the missing men’s family members.

The family assisted the forest rangers with a Snap Chat program, which helped to locate the lost skiers. Rangers then requested the men call 911 to ping their cellphone for an exact location.

Based on coordinates provided by Essex County 911, a map of their location was generated and forest rangers directed the subjects to walk to a designated location. The skiers exited the woods at 5:16 p.m., and were met by rangers.

The two men were transported to Whiteface Mountain Medical Services. The pair signed off on medical attention, and the incident concluded at 5:45 p.m.

Town of Bolton

Warren County

Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 23 at 7:53 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch from two hikers on the Northwest Bay Trail.

The hikers started their hike that morning and one of them, a 36-year-old male from Selden, was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration.

Coordinates obtained through 911 placed the hikers about four miles from the Clay Meadows Trail.

Forest ranger Evan Donegan responded, along with the Bolton Landing Fire Department and their airboat.

At 8:31 p.m., the responders were on Lake George and heading to the hikers’ last known location. They were located at 9:23 p.m., returned to shore, and hiked back out to the trailhead.

By Kerry Minor

Leave a Reply