Police: Hiker died on Dix Mountain trail from ‘medical episode’

State Police have identified a 41-year-old man from the Buffalo area who died while hiking in the Dix Mountain Wilderness Area on Aug. 9.

State Police Troop B Public Information Officer Jennifer Fleishman said Jason R. Capizzi of East Aurora suffered a “medical episode” while descending from the mountain range that evening.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said its Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation is also investigating the death.

Forest Rangers Scott Sabo and Melissa Milano responded to a report of a man feeling ill and unable to walk at the Lillian Brook lean-to at 7 p.m., DEC said. They found Capizzi at 9:20 p.m. but life-saving efforts were unsuccessful, Fleishman said.

Six more rangers assisted in carrying his body out but the section of trail was too hazardous for a complete carry-out.

The next morning, a State Police helicopter arrived for transport from a landing zone in the forest.

Fleishman said Capizzi was taken to Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh where Essex County Coroner Kelly Valentine performed an autopsy.

Son, friend, coworker, bartender

Capizzi was a bartender at Aurora Brew Works. In a post memorializing him on its Facebook page, coworkers and friends said Capizzi loved hiking in the Adirondacks and was a friendly face everywhere he went.

“Jason was always eager to make people feel at home,” Aurora Brew Works wrote. “He was more than just a bartender. With a larger-than-life personality and a heart he wore on his sleeve; Jason was a kind, selfless, hard-working, funny, and all around genuine human being.”

Capizzi’s mother Janice Venezia Capizzi responded and said, “I'(m) so proud to call Jason my son. I love you JASON and forever will.”

The post was filled with comments from friends, coworkers and bar patrons remembering, mourning and celebrating Capizzi. They loved him and were heartbroken to hear about his death.

“He was always there when I needed him and I looked forward to seeing him during my shifts,” Cate Baranowski wrote. “My husband and I met him briefly through friends before I worked ABW and am so very grateful that I was able to become his coworker and his friend. Words cannot express how much we will miss him.”

“We instantly bonded over our love of the Adirondack High Peaks,” Jeremy Keller wrote. On the hiking website AllTrails, Capizzi logged hikes in all corners of the High Peaks Wilderness.

“I’m going to miss our long conversations about which ones we’re going to do next and the ones we’ve completed,” Keller wrote. “Trading tips and planning to eventually hike together. He was an incredibly friendly and charismatic guy that seemed to remember everyone that came through that door.”