New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers today 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. 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 volunteers from various agencies, search and rescue teams, fire departments and individuals in their attempt to locate Mr. Messick," said DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos.
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 efforts 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.
During the course of the search more than 11 square miles of land were grid searched of which nearly three square miles were grid searched twice. Additionally 269 miles of linear searches and 156 miles of K-9 searches were conducted. Nearly four 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 ttheir support of the search effort. DEC also thanks 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.