Recent Forest Ranger Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured, or distressed people from across New York State.

Town of Newcomb

Essex County

Wilderness Rescue: On July 19 at 2:30 a.m. DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call reporting a young woman that was overdue from a hike in the Santanoni Range. The caller indicated she did not think that the woman had the proper gear for an overnight stay. Forest Ranger Buck responded.

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Holly felt a gentle hand upon her shoulder, stirring her. She hugged herself against the morning chill, then she curled into a ball and squeezed herself closer against the shelter of the fallen oak. The hand again shook her gently and a woman’s voice softly bid her to awaken as if Holly was entranced.

Holly said somnolently, “I’m chilly,” and she hugged herself more tightly. The gentle voice answered, “Come, and we shall find warmth.” Holly turned her head to the voice and said, “I’m hungry.” The voice said tenderly, “There are blueberries we can gather for your breakfast.”

Holly looked to the voice and was confused by the apparition of a tall and slender woman in gossamer white with long platinum hair draped upon her shoulders. She asked, “Who are you?” 

The woman answered with a kindly smile, “My name is Meridia. I have come looking for you. Your family is worried.” Holly murmured the name, searching her mind for acquaintance.  

The apparition reached to help Holly rise. Holly got to her hands and knees and crawled from the side of the fallen oak. She stood without the apparition’s help. She wiped her hands on her jersey, brushed away pine needles from her shorts and swept more from her hair. She stared at the apparition. Then she asked, “How did you find me?” 

Without waiting for an answer, Holly walked away to gather blueberries from the scrawny bushes sparse among the forest understory. She took a double handful and crushed them to produce a juice that she slurped before eating the pulp. Meridia smiled and said, “You left signs that I was able to follow.” 

Holly said, “I didn’t see any signs on my way here, nor any signs that showed me a way out. There are no trail markers.  I got lost. I hadn’t planned to spend the night. When it got dark, I fell and I hit my head. I was disoriented. There was bleeding.” Holly reached and felt about her head for blood. “I was able to make a bed of pine needles and I squeezed against that fallen oak for shelter.” 

The apparition moved closer. She gently stroked Holly’s sleep-tangled hair, combing away pine needles. She rubbed the sore as if to make it better. She said softly, “I have an ability to read messages from signs of disturbance in the forest. Your trail was not hard for me to follow. Come, it’s time for you to go home.”

They began to walk through the woods. Meridia took Holly’s arm and Holly felt as if she were weightless. The day had broken fully. Rays of sunlight pierced the tree top canopy. Holly heard the rippling of a nearby creek and asked if they might stop to drink. 

They did, and after first bringing a cupped hand to her lips, Holly splashed water to her face and rubbed her eyes. She looked back to Meridia, who smiled kindly. They continued their hike and Holly felt even lighter, as if a wisp on air. Ahead, in the near distance, she could see the forest open into the bright glory of a new day. Her stride was as if winged.

The knock on the door was firm but controlled. “Mrs. Janeway?” the uniformed officer asked when the door was opened. “Yes, that’s me. What is the matter? Sam! Sam come here!” Mrs. Janeway called to her husband. She tightly gripped Sam’s arm.

“Mr. and Mrs. Janeway,” he said. “I’m Ranger Buck. We believe that we may have found your daughter, Holly. A hiker found her. She appears to have had a serious accident, a fall. I’m very sorry. An ambulance has taken her to Elizabethtown. We need one of you to come to identify the body. I’m very sorry. We can go in my car.”

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