First responder talks about Thacher State Park search and rescue

June 17, 2019 06:36 PM

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple is calling the rescue at Thacher State Park on Saturday a miraculous one.

"This was a rescue. Many of them over my three decades of experience have been recoveries," said Sheriff Apple.


Dylan Dunney, 19, of Guilderland fell from a cliff at the overlook shortly before 6:30 Saturday morning. Apple says the teen fell straight down about 150 feet then continued rolling down another 300 feet or so.

Apple says the search and rescue involved two different operations. On the ground, eight paramedics made their way into the park by foot while many other first responders waited at the top of the cliff to help hoist Dunney back up.

"Hell, to be quite frank. It was probably the worst location in the park that you could ask to do this. There was almost no way to walk to the individual," said Captain Dennis Wood, one of the eight who trekked in.

Wood has been with the sheriff's department for more than 20 years. He says they've done many recoveries and rescues in the park, but this one was the most difficult to date.

"You're very limited in what you can bring with you. Everything has to be strapped to your back or to you somewhere. You can't carry anything in cause you need your hands to maneuver," said Wood.

Wood says it took an hour to get to Dunney. He says at first, the young man was conscious - but his condition changed about 45 minutes later.

"We were able to secure his airway below the cliff which is unheard of. We were able to get some IVs started, give him something for pain management.

Sheriff Apple says Dunney and a friend had been drinking alcohol before the fall. He says rescues like this one are things they train extensively for, but should never have to do.

"This was something that was preventable. There are signs. There's a wall. It clearly dictates do not come over the wall. Do not go near the edge," said Sheriff Apple.

The friend was charged with trespassing and giving alcohol to an underage person.

Apple says Dunney will face charges as well as be given a bill for the rescue efforts.


Jacquie Slater

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