Drones Assist in Rescue of Hikers

Sheriff’s office provides view of terrain

Two drones operated by officers from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the rescue on Sunday (June 9) of two hikers stranded on a ledge in Hudson Highlands State Park about a half-mile south of Breakneck Ridge.

In a shot from a drone, rescuers are shown approaching two hikers who became stuck on a ledge near Breakneck. (PCSD)

The Cold Spring Fire Co. and the New York State Park Police located the two men shortly after 5 p.m. but the steep terrain prevented a rescue. A command post was established near the Cornish Estate Trailhead, forcing the closure of Route 9D.

The Orange County Technical Rescue Team was summoned but had difficulty assessing the terrain, police said. Sgt. Matthew Monroe and Deputy William Rossiter of the Sheriff’s Department piloted the drones over the hikers, which provided the team with a view of the site. At about 10 p.m., after more than five hours on the ledge, the men were rescued by firefighters who climbed down to them.

Monroe and Rossiter are among four members of the Sheriff’s Department who are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to pilot unmanned aircraft during emergencies. The aircraft are equipped with GPS, zoom cameras, thermal imaging sensors, search lights and public address speakers, the Sheriff’s Department said.

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