Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recognized the nine Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers and the dispatcher involved in the rescue of three men whose plane crashed in the Adirondack Mountains last week. Governor Cuomo commended the men and woman for their heroic efforts to save the lives of the survivors in sub-zero temperatures.
“The actions of these Forest Rangers exemplify the unwavering dedication and tireless commitment of the men and women charged with keeping New Yorkers and those who visit our state safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “These Forest Rangers saved lives and should be commended for their bravery and service to New York State.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, “Last week’s rescue of three plane crash survivors is just the latest example of how vital our Forest Rangers are when a crisis strikes. They are specially trained and they are special men and women. I’m very proud of the heroism and dedication of our Forest Rangers.”
The Forest Rangers, all based out of DEC’s Region 5 office in Ray Brook, recognized by Governor Cuomo are:
· Forest Ranger Lt. Charles Platt, nearly 20 years as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger Kevin Burns, 14 years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger Peter Evans, 14 years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger James Giglinto, 17 years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger Thomas Gliddi, 16 years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger Chris Kostoss, 14 years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger Joseph LaPierre, 14 years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger David Russell, eight years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Forest Ranger Scott VanLaer, 16 years of service as a Forest Ranger
· Dispatcher Alicia Bodmer, 16 years as a Dispatcher
At 6:32 p.m. on February 21, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook was contacted by State Police seeking Forest Ranger response to a plane crash in a wooded area near the Lake Placid Airport. Temperatures were in the single digits and fell to sub-zero overnight.
Essex County 911 was in contact with the three male occupants of the airplane all of Westfield, NJ who indicated they were in good condition. They provided coordinates of the crash site which were relayed to DEC Dispatch. When the coordinates were plotted on a map the site of the plane crash was near the summit of Nye Mountain, a trail-less High Peak just west of the Adirondack Loj.
Two DEC Forest Rangers initially responded to the Mount Jo Trailhead on the Adirondack Loj road and headed to the crash site on snowshoes and carrying cold weather gear for the crash victims. A second team of four Forest Rangers started a short while later carrying equipment for evacuating the three men.
A helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit was also dispatched from the Lake Clear Airport but at 7:35 p.m. advised that they were unable to reach the crash site due to weather and darkness.
A Forest Ranger was in direct phone contact with the men at the crash site. They reported they had erected a tarp as a temporary shelter and put on extra clothing to attempt to stay warm.
At 10:50 p.m. Forest Rangers concluded that Nye Mountain location was not the correct location. At about this same time the first two Forest Rangers had hiked three miles to the crash site and confirmed there was no airplane present. Ranger determined the original coordinates were provided in atypical format. Plotting the coordinates in the standard format, Rangers determined the crash site was actually just west of Lake Placid near Big Burn Mountain.
The second group of forest rangers was redirected from Nye Mountain to Big Burn Mountain where they were joined by a another ranger. The Forest Rangers were able to reach the crash site by snowmobile via the Jack Rabbit Trail and bushwhacking on snowshoes the last half mile. The crash site was one mile from the road. The three men were located by the Forest Rangers at 1:55 a.m., February 22.
The men were evacuated by snowmobile to the Whiteface Inn Road Trailhead where they were evaluated by the Lake Placid Rescue Squad. It was determined the men were fine and they declined any further medical treatment or transport.