New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers have downgraded the search for Thomas Messick to limited continuous after DEC and its partners made all reasonable efforts to search all probable areas where the 82-year-old hunter may have been located.
Under the limited continuous search, local Forest Rangers and search and rescue teams will conduct spot searches and training exercises in the search area and nearby areas not previously searched. State Police Aviation helicopters and Forest Rangers will also periodically search the lands and waters in and around the search area. State Police will keep an active missing person case and will investigate any and all information relevant to the whereabouts of Mr. Messick.
The search will be upgraded to an active search if any leads or evidence of his whereabouts are discovered.
“I appreciate the tremendous effort made by the Forest Rangers and all the other searchers from various agencies, search and rescue teams, fire departments and individuals in their attempt to locate Mr. Messick,” said DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. “While we have not yet provided his family with closure, they know and appreciate how hard the searchers worked.”
Mr. Messick was last seen on Sunday, November 15, 2015 a short distance off Lily Pond Road where he had been left by members of his hunting party. At 2:00 p.m. all members of the group met up at a pre-determined location, except for Mr. Messick. The hunting party began searching for Mr. Messick, but were unable to locate him. They contacted the DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch at 4:30 p.m. Four Forest Rangers responded to the location and searched until midnight to no avail.
During the subsequent two months of searching Forest Rangers were joined in the attempt to locate Mr. Messick by Environmental Conservation Police, State Police and several other state and county agencies and hundreds of volunteers from search and rescue teams, fire departments, family and friends of Mr. Messick, and other volunteer searchers from as far away as West Virginia. More than 10,000 searcher hours were expended, most during the initial, intensive ten days of the search.
During the course of the search more than 11 square miles of land were grid searched of which nearly 3 square miles were grid searched twice. Additionally 269 miles of linear searches and 156 miles of K-9 searches were conducted. Nearly 4 miles were searched by boat and 16 miles were searched by ATV. The State Police Aviation Unit helicopter searched thousands of acres with Forest Rangers on board as spotters and Divers from the State Police Dive Team also searched Lily Pond.
DEC thanks the Town of Horicon, Horicon Fire Department and their Women’s Auxiliary for all they did to support the search effort. We also want to thank the following agencies and organizations for their participation in the search:
· State Police (including Troopers, Investigators, Aviation Unit, SORT, and Dive Team)
· Department of Corrections and Community Supervision CERT Team
· DHSES Office of Fire Prevention & Control and Office of Emergency Management
· Federal Bureau of Investigation Quick Response Team
· Albany County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team
· Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team
· Greene County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team
· Warren County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team
· Washington County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team
· New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams
· Central Adirondack Search and Rescue Team
· Champlain Valley K9
· Eagle Valley Search K9
· Hudson Mohawk Search and Rescue
· Long Island Search and Rescue
· Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue
· Niagara Frontier Search and Rescue Team
· Northeast Mobile Search and Rescue
· Sam’s Point Search and Rescue
· Oswego County Pioneers Search and Rescue
· Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks
· Search Team 5-1
· Tri-State Search and Rescue
· Wilderness Search and Rescue Team
· Argyle Fire Department
· Queensbury Central Fire Department
· Rhinebeck Fire Department
· Schroon Lake Fire Department
· Vischer Ferry Fire Department
· Family, friends and community volunteers
Mr. Messick is 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket, coveralls and a red and black plaid hat. If you have any information, please call the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-897-1300