The search for a 22-year-old Saranac Lake man is being scaled back about a week after he was reported missing by family members. Officials with the state Department of Environmental
Conservation said the search for Wesley Wamsganz has been switched to "limited continuous" status effective Sunday evening, Nov. 28. DEC Region 5 spokesman David Winchell said the decision was made after consulting with the young man's family.
Winchell said searchers were hampered Sunday by steep, rough terrain; cold, wet weather; and eight inches of fresh snow over the weekend.
Some 100 volunteers from the New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams, as well as local volunteers, have assisted DEC forest rangers and State Police in the search for Wamsganz.
Captain John Streiff is a forest ranger with DEC in Ray Brook.
"We will continue searching for Mr. Wamsganz through local ranger patrols and training initiatives here in the High Peaks from his last known point, where we found the article of clothing last week," he said.
He explained witnesses saw Wamsganz on trails near Marcy Dam in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.
"Farther up the trail is where we located the Carhart Jacket, which was positively identified as being Mr. Wamsganz's - that's where we concentrated the search area, about a half mile out from there," Streiff said.
"We've covered the whole trail system in the majority of the High Peaks, as well as all of the lean-tos. It's been an intensive search and we're running out of places where we can search safely. We'll search more with aviation later this week if the weather cooperates."
Police said Wamsganz left his place of employment, the Downtown Diner on Main Street in Lake Placid, last Saturday afternoon before family members reported him missing.
Streiff said officials won't know why Wamsganz elected to head into the High Peaks, unless the young man is eventually located.
"At this point, there's still conjecture as to why he chose to leave work Saturday and head into the High Peaks," he said. "If we ever get that information, we'll have to get it from Wes himself."
Streiff thanked all rescue personnel and volunteers who have participated in the search to this point.
"Even though this is not the outcome we hoped for, we did conduct a well-organized effort with no injuries," he said. "The local community has once again been great with their efforts and donations. The effort has been great."
The Lake Placid Village Police Department is leading the missing person investigation with the cooperation and assistance from Saranac Lake police, the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and DEC Forest Rangers.
Winchell said forest rangers patrolling the High Peaks will continue to be alert for any signs of Wamsganz, as will the State Police Aviation Unit whenever missions take them into the general area of the search.
Search and rescue training by agencies and volunteer organizations will be conducted in the area.
NPR reporter Brian Mann contributed to this article.