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Old 09-12-2017, 10:15 AM   #1
Buckladd
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Man Missing in High Peaks (9/12/17)

DEC Forest Rangers, Other Agencies and Volunteers Search for Missing Man in High Peaks Wilderness


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers, working with New York State Police and the Hopewell, New Jersey Police Department, are searching the Western High Peaks Wilderness for Alex Stevens, a 28-year-old male from Hopewell, New Jersey.

DEC is asking anyone who may have seen Mr. Stevens or has information about his whereabouts to contact the New York State Police at 518-897-2000.
DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call on at 1:25 p.m., on Sunday, September 10, from a family member reporting Alex Stevens overdue from a hike into the southern High Peaks Wilderness in the town of Newcomb, Essex County. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded to the Upper Works Trailhead at the end of Upper Works Road, off County Route 25, and located Mr. Stevens vehicle. An entry in the trailhead register dated September 2, indicates he planned to spend three days in the wilderness. It is believed he may have been planning to camp in the area around Wallface Mountain.

The three Forest Rangers searched the trails leading from the trailhead on foot while two additional Rangers joined the effort in a State Police Aviation Unit helicopter. The search ended at dark with no sign of Mr. Stevens.

Today (9/12/17), 27 Forest Rangers, State Police Aviation Helicopter, and two volunteer professional climbers continue to search for Mr. Stevens. In addition, State Police Investigators are working with the Hopewell, N.J. Police Department to collect information that may assist the search effort.

Alex Stevens is a 28-year-old, 5 foot 11 inch, 220 pound, white male with blue eyes and brown hair. He was last seen on September 2nd near the base of Wallface Mountain wearing sandals, shorts, and a dark blue t-shirt. He may be carrying a green colored, light backpack with a silver foam bed roll attached. He has longer hair that he typically wears in a "bun," and glasses.
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Old 09-14-2017, 11:42 AM   #2
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Wow..I had hiked Mt. Adams Sunday, same afternoon he was reported overdue. Even remember passing 3 DEC/state trooper trucks headed up Upperworks Road on our way home.

Anyway, doesn't sound like he was at all prepared. On Sept 2, his first night there, the overnight low temp was 28F, and it rained every day the following week. Not looking good.
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Old 09-14-2017, 12:44 PM   #3
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Update: SAR found some evidence that he was on or near the summit of Wallface, but have not located him. Doesn't sound good.
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Old 09-14-2017, 01:08 PM   #4
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... doesn't sound like he was at all prepared.
Not from the DEC's initial statement (above) but subsequent reports indicated he had a tarp, hammock, "bedroll" and "some food".

The enormous challenge faced by the searchers is this is a "cold lead". He was overdue by 6 days before reported missing. He left September 2nd for a 3-day trip and was reported missing on September 10th (when he failed to show up for a scheduled event with friends). Basically, the searchers are looking for someone who's about a week past his expected return date.

More about this incident is being discussed here (including links to recent developments):
http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...ng-man-from-nj
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Old 09-15-2017, 05:41 PM   #5
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Any updates?
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:20 PM   #6
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Any updates?
http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com

Also, a comment from the recent Adirondack Almanack article mentions...
Quote:
I grew up with Alex and he absolutely would have worn sandals as a choice, not due to lack of planning. I know the circumstances make him sound like someone ill prepared but he was no stranger to the outdoors.
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:05 PM   #7
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I heard from a DEC press person today. They're buried in this search and say there's no news.
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:25 PM   #8
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Rangers set up wilderness base camp to continue Stevens search

It's not looking good...
Hope the searchers get a break, the man hours are adding up quick and other incidents are bound to happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris @AA
"he was no stranger to the outdoors"
Outdoors and High Peaks with the weather at the time of incident are apples and oranges comparison...

This was reported at Lk. Clear airport (KSLK) - at 1650' elevation,
Wallface is 3700'?

Sep 2: Hi 69F Lo 28F, precip 0" ; Fog -> Day of last sighting
Sep 3: Hi 54F Lo 34F, precip .67" ; Rain
Sep 4: Hi 74F Lo 52F, precip .10 ; Rain
Sep 5: Hi 65F Lo 50F, precip .57" ; Rain
Sep 6: Hi 59F Lo 46F, precip .04" ; Rain / Fog
Sep 7: Hi 62F Lo 45F, precip .09" ; Thunder
Sep 8: Hi 57F Lo 48F, precip .15" ; Rain
Sep 9: Hi 58F Lo 39F, precip .03" ; Rain / Fog
Sep 10:Hi 63F Lo 33F, precip 0"; Fog -> Day of missing person report

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Old 09-16-2017, 08:35 AM   #9
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Here's a sobering fact I learned while reading about the search for Geraldine Largay (AT hiker lost in Maine). A representative from the Maine Warden Service reported they find 90% of all lost/missing hikers within 48 hours of notification. NYSDEC is equally successful.

So what does this mean to me, you, and other hikers? It means you stand a good chance of being found within two days of someone (promptly) reporting you are overdue. That's encouraging news for the 90% of lost hikers. It's even shorter if you activate a PLB or SEND device (your location is reported).

What if you are NOT found within 48 hours? That means you are in the minority. There is something about your situation that makes you exceptionally difficult to locate. You are the proverbial 'needle in a haystack'. If you have the ability to make yourself more visible (become the nail or fence-post in a haystack) then by all means do it. Your timely rescue, and life, depends upon it.

The record shows people who are not found after many days of searching, are rarely ever found alive or found at all. If you are in this situation, namely alive and "not found" for days, it behooves you to make yourself more visible or, if you have the ability and means, to seriously consider the option of self-rescue. Getting to the nearest clearing, trail, or road will improve the odds of being found.

The additional complication in this incident is that Stevens was reported missing 6 days after his scheduled return. It is essential you leave your itinerary with a responsible individual (especially if you don't carry a PLB or SEND ... and please don't rely on cell phone coverage in the backcountry). If you don't call them by the deadline, their responsibility is to immediately contact DEC headquarters and report you overdue. This gives searchers a far better chance of locating you within 48 hours.

tl;dr
Most lost hikers are found within 48 hours. Odds of being found (alive or at all) start to drop after 48 hours. If you're in this situation make yourself easier to find (if you're able to): fire, signal mirror, brightly colored or reflective materials, move to a clearing or trail, etc.
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Old 09-17-2017, 12:03 PM   #10
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There are at least a couple of cases within the past 2 years (3 or 4 that I know of) where missing subjects in NY State have been located as much as 7 days after going missing, still alive. Not in the best of shape, but survivors nonetheless.

DEC Rangers in the Adirondacks have an excellent record in these days of cell phone pings and GPS of finding subjects within 24 hours of being called. Much longer than that and (depending many circumstance factors and situation criticality) they consider activating NYSFEDSAR volunteer search teams, closest to scene or specialized teams first, then perhaps a more general statewide team callout. Certified trained dogs are often in the mix, including air scent, ground scent and cadaver scent dogs), either state law enforcement or private (SAR team) owned. In combination, the majority of missing person cases are solved, most (unfortunately not all) with good news.

There is a large study and statistical body of knowledge in Lost Person Behavior by Robert Koester, the "Bible" of when and where to search, based on category of subject type and Last Known Place (LKP), time, and area specifics

In the case of Mr. Stevens, due to remoteness and difficulty of terrain, Rangers have not activated the NYSFEDSAR volunteers in general. So far, only trained high angle climbing specialist SAR individuals have been allowed to participate on scene. Access to the site from the Incident Command Center in Newcomb has been via helicopter, with many days limited to between noon and 1700 due to early fog.
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Old 09-17-2017, 03:41 PM   #11
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they consider activating NYSFEDSAR volunteer search teams, closest to scene or specialized teams first, then perhaps a more general statewide team callout. Certified trained dogs are often in the mix, including air scent, ground scent and cadaver scent dogs), either state law enforcement or private (SAR team) owned. In combination, the majority of missing person cases are solved, most (unfortunately not all) with good news.
Because it seems to have been a long time now. And because I'm curious.

What would trigger the contingency plan where the more specialized teams you mention would be asked to participate?

Don

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Old 09-17-2017, 04:24 PM   #12
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What would trigger the contingency plan where the more specialized teams you mention would be asked to participate?

Don
Consideration for safety of the volunteer searchers, weighed against probability of success with already available resources, of course is what determines the trigger. In this case the DEC determined the area is not only difficult and time consuming to reach, but quite dangerous terrain, as has been stated earlier. Secondary is effectiveness. Hauling in a bunch of volunteers, some of which may not be in the best of physical shape, keeping account of each one, and giving them something safe and meaningful to do, plus feeding and watering them, all is a management planning and logistical nightmare. There is an unbelievable amount of behind the scenes planning to be done, usually long before volunteer SAR is released to the field, even during a more normal "routine" SAR event. There are teams with a number of members who specialize and train in high angle vertical rescue, so those are the natural ones to be used, especially in this case. it may be that after the roughest and most likely of the difficult areas are thoroughly searched without success, that other searchers may be called in.
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Old 09-17-2017, 04:55 PM   #13
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Consideration for safety of the volunteer searchers, weighed against probability of success with already available resources, of course is what determines the trigger....
Thanks for the reply. I've been to the top of that mountain twice and can appreciate the challenges and obstacles presented by the terrain and otherwise.

Don
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Old 09-17-2017, 06:41 PM   #14
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Agree with Wldrns. I volunteered many years ago on a search in the Lake George area. In that area are smaller mountains, trails and open woods and the Pilot Knob firehouse to use as a base of operations. It was "easy" to feed everyone, keep track of everyone and the terrain is a LOT less rugged with no real danger.
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Old 09-18-2017, 06:35 PM   #15
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Found

Found, but not a happy ending for anyone

http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/20...tml#more-74570
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Old 09-18-2017, 07:14 PM   #16
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In a case like this, with so much time passing (16 days) and the cold rain of a week and more ago, it would have been a miracle for a different outcome. When I heard on my radio the ranger announcing the find, it was finally over. Another half mile further (would have been a rough go in the stuff we were fighting through) and my crew would have been to the exact same location.
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Old 09-18-2017, 07:51 PM   #17
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Unfortunate ending, but relieved that the family can get some closure..Also relieved that that SAR personnel won't have to continue risking injury in that country.

Wldrns--3hrs to grid a half mile. Insane vegetation...I must have seen you in passing, I left camp sunday. Thank you for volunteering!
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:33 PM   #18
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... my crew would have been to the exact same location.
Do you know where near Wallface Pond (as reported by several news sources) he was located? I'll hazard a guess somewhere southeast of the southern pond?


PS
Neil and I 'shwacked from MacNaughton to Wallface. There's some fiendishly thick woods on the MacNaughton side of Wallface Ponds but surprisingly open woods southeast of the southern pond's outlet. Frankly we found the going pretty good up to the summit ... unexpected for woods on the southern side of a peak. Then it rained on us and the descent north, to Indian Pass Brook, was nowhere near as nice (to say the least). Progress slowed dramatically.

Kudos to the hardy people who grid-searched in that kind of terrain!
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:36 PM   #19
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Yes, i do know the coordinates. But I am not certain that is public information. Lets just say somewhere off the W flank of WF.
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:50 PM   #20
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Yes, i do know the coordinates. But I am not certain that is public information. Lets just say somewhere off the W flank of WF.
Understood.
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