Forest Ranger John C. Streiff points to the original search area for Australian Paul John McKay. McKay was eventually located in the area indicated by the circle and red plus sign drawn below Streiff’s outstretched hand.
RAY BROOK — New York State Forest Rangers located the body of missing Australian man Captain Paul John McKay, 33, On Wednesday, Jan. 15, ending a search effort that lasted nearly two weeks.
“This is not the outcome we hoped for,” village Police Chief Bruce Nason said at a press conference late Wednesday morning at the state police Troop B headquarters in Ray Brook.
The body was located near the summit of Scarface Mountain around 11 a.m on Wednesday, Jan. 15, in the town of North Elba.
Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw authorized the removal of the body that was then transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake by New York State Police Aviation.
McKay had been reported missing Jan. 3 by his family in Australia after his father received an email leading him to believe he was not returning.
Officials received a report from an eye witness that McKay was last seen carrying a large backpack and heading east near railroad tracks on the border of Ray Brook and Saranac Lake around noon on New Year’s Eve.
Expanding they’re original search area covering areas around the Northville Placid Trail, Seymour Mountain and Scarface Mountain, search and rescue teams still came up with nothing.
Due to the fluctuation in temperatures, officials were not able to see any tracks left by Mckay.
Also, because of very dense cover, the body was not visible from the aerial search nor by Rangers who had been on the summit of Scarface Mountain on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Rangers returned to the area Wednesday and Forest Ranger Scott VanLaer found Mckay’s body approximately 500 feet from the trail just below the summit of Scarface Mountain.
McKay was serving as a captain in the Australian military where he had spent 10 months stationed in Afghanistan until January 2012. He reportedly suffered from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his time served.
Search efforts included several state-certified search-and-rescue teams, dozens of rangers, canine units, volunteers and aerial searches by a helicopter.
The initial investigation showed no signs of foul play in McKay’s death.
McKay was on leave between assignments in the Australian Army and not due back until Jan. 20. He had been missing for over two weeks.
Paul John McKay
State Police Captain John Tibbits said they’re hoping the autopsy will give them a better indication of how long McKay was on the mountainside.
As to why Mckay had come to the Adirondacks in the first place is still a mystery.
On January 16, 2014, an autopsy was performed on the body of 33-year-old Paul J. McKay, found on January 15, 2014 by New York State Forest Rangers on Scarface Mountain in the town of North Elba.
The autopsy was performed by Dr. C. Francis Varga at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, NY, who ruled the cause of death to be arrhythmia due to hypothermia. Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw has ruled the manner of death to be suicide.
Whitelaw stated that due to the totality of the circumstances and physical evidence on the body at the scene the death was consistent with suicide.