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Missing hiker found dead in Lake Arnold area


June 1, 2015
Outdoors Writer , Lake Placid News

An interior caretaker with the state Department of Environmental Conservation found the body of a missing hiker Sunday afternoon in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

Julie Belanger, 34, of Montreal, Quebec, and a female hiking companion left the Adirondak Loj area at about 10 a.m. Saturday, heading for Grey and Skylight Mountains. The pair were returning from the hike at about 7 p.m. when Belanger fell off of a log while crossing Feldspar Brook and was swept away by the current.

Belanger's friend didn't have cell phone service to call for help, and heavy rain forced her to take refuge at the Feldspar Brook lean-to.

"The weather was too inclement, and it had become dark," trooper Jennifer Fleishman, spokeswoman for Ray Brook-based state police Troop B, told the Enterprise. "She became scared and distraught. She was assisted by some other hikers in attempting to look for her friend the next day."

Fleishman said when the group failed to locate Belanger, the hikers assisted her friend back to the Loj, where they called Ray Brook state police at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. State police notified the DEC, and an interior caretaker located Belanger's body in the early afternoon.

State Police Aviation and DEC forest rangers hoisted Belanger's body from the Lake Arnold area at about 7:10 p.m. Her body was flown to the Lake Placid Airport, where she was officially pronounced dead by Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw. Whitelaw ruled the manner of death accidental.

Belanger's body was then taken to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where an autopsy was performed Monday morning by Dr. C. Francis Varga, who determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation due to fresh water drowning.



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