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No new signs of Stevens as search continues

September 14, 2017
By staff , Lake Placid News

NEWCOMB - Alex Stevens still has not been found, nor any new signs of his presence, as evening approached on Thursday, the fifth day of a backcountry search for him.

Today marked 12 days since Stevens, 28, of Hopewell, New Jersey, was last reported seen, on Sept. 2 deep in the High Peaks Wilderness. He had planned a three-day hiking and camping trip there, although forest rangers say he was inadequately prepared. It wasn't until Sept. 10 that he was reported missing, by friends after he didn't show up to meet them in New York City. Rangers found his vehicle that day in the Upper Works trailhead parking area in the town of Newcomb.

Dozens of rangers have been hunting for Stevens every day since then, with the help of helicopters, dogs, volunteers and professional rock climbers - but the High Peaks Wilderness is vast. Rangers conduct many search-and-rescue missions there every year, and while the vast majority of the lost are rescued alive, a few have never been found, such as 8-year-old Douglas Legg in 1971, Steven Thomas in 1976, Thomas Carleton in 1993 and Wesley Wamsganz in 2010. In a few other cases, the search subject's remains were found years later.

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Alex Stevens (Photo provided by DEC)

Today, 26 forest rangers searched the area north and northeast of Wallface Mountain, whose massive cliff is an old-school rock-climbing destination. Stevens had researched Wallface online, and rangers said they found a campsite and some items they believe were his on the mountain's summit.

Wallface is also where he was last seen. People who talked to him near the base of the mountain Sept. 2 told DEC he was wearing open-toed sandals, shorts, a T-shirt and a light backpack. Forest ranger Lt. Brian Dubay said Stevens brought a hammock instead of a sleeping bag and apparently was not adequately prepared to spend many days in the backcountry.

The day after those people saw him, rain fell steadily all day long.

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Forest rangers have been on numerous search-and-rescue missions lately, and Dubay said Tuesday they are getting fatigued.

"By the end of the day Wednesday, an estimated 300 Forest Ranger hours and 60 volunteer hours have been expended over three days of search efforts," Dave Winchell, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation in Ray Brook, wrote in an email. "During that period searchers covered 209 miles total while searching trails, drainages, and other areas of rugged terrain. K9 units conducted searches over 11 miles."

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Adirondack Amateur Radio Association, Newcomb Volunteer Fire Department, town of Newcomb and Newcomb Central School provided logistical support in today's search, according to the DEC. New York State Police and Hopewell, New Jersey, police are handling a missing-person investigation while DEC leads the backcountry search.

Alex Stevens is 5 feet, 11 inches tall, 220 pounds, wears glasses and has longer hair usually tied back in a bun. Anyone who sees him or has information about his whereabouts is asked to call state police at 518-897-2000.

 
 

 

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