On 03/01/15 at approximately 7:30 pm, a Highland resident contacted Ulster County 911 to report her 60 year old father had walked away from her residence in Sunday’s snow storm after a family dispute. The caller was concerned as darkness had fallen and the wind chill had dropped below twenty degrees. Her father, visiting from Long Island, had been drinking and was not dressed for the elements when he left her house 3 hours earlier. Responding Troopers from the Highland and Gardiner stations began a search of the area and were joined by officers from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and Town of Lloyd Police Department. Ulster County 911 was able to establish contact with the man via cell phone, and attempted to ascertain his location. Communication was difficult as hypothermia had to set in and the man became more confused, lapsing in and out of consciousness.
After nearly an hour of searching the area, Troopers were able to use a nearby radio tower and sirens to help the man triangulate his location. Although the man had stopped communicating with 911 at some point, Troopers were able to spot the light from his cell phone to ultimately locate him. Leaning against a tree and unable to move, the man was located standing in thigh deep snow. Two Troopers removed their jackets to wrap around the man to try to raise his temperature as they began their trek out of the woods. Traversing the deep snow with the man who was unable to walk was proving difficult, so a toboggan was obtained from a nearby homeowner to get the man out of the woods and to waiting EMS.
Upon arriving at a local hospital for treatment of hypothermia and frostbite, the man’s core temperature was found to be 80 degrees. Sustained body temperatures of 80 degrees or below are almost uniformly fatal. The man is recovering slowly and the severity of the frostbite is still being determined. The actions of the Troopers and other Law Enforcement personnel on this case most assuredly saved this man’s life.