2 boys hospitalized after spending night lost on Mt. Marcy

Two young brothers who got lost while hiking with their mother to the top of New York's highest peak
Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)
Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

Two young brothers who got lost while hiking with their mother to the top of New York’s highest peak and spent a frigid night stranded on the mountain remain hospitalized Monday, the boys’ mother said.

In an email to The Associated Press, Ning Cai said her sons, ages 7 and 11, will be released from the hospital in Lake Placid “probably by the weekend.”

The Cuomo administration said the Cai family of Potsdam, New York, hiked to the 5,344-foot summit of Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks late Saturday afternoon. They started their decent around 4 p.m., but couldn’t find their way back down the mountain because the wind had picked up and blowing snow quickly covered the trail, according to David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“By the time they realized they were lost, they weren’t able to follow their tracks back to where they’d come from,” he said.

Cai called Essex County 911 on her cellphone around 5:30 p.m. to report that she and her sons were lost. The local DEC office was alerted, and a team of forest rangers reached the summit around 9:30 p.m., but couldn’t find the family despite searching until midnight. Another team of rangers made their way to the mountain in sub-zero temperatures and wind gusts topping 20 mph to relieve the first team.

A state police helicopter spotted Cai and her sons near Marcy’s summit around 11 a.m. Sunday. The helicopter first rescued the boys, then went back for their mother.

Cai, 39, was treated for cold weather-related injuries at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake and released. Her sons were being treated Monday at an AMC hospital. Their names and the nature of their injuries were not released.

It’s not uncommon for people to hike to Marcy’s tree-less summit in winter, Winchell said. Rangers said the Cai family was dressed for the conditions and properly equipped, he said.

Winchell said a total of about three dozen forest rangers, DEC officers and state troopers were involved in the search and rescue, which drew praise from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“I congratulate them all on a job well done,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Cai, a native of China, is an adjunct instructor for the biology and modern language departments at the State University of New York at Potsdam. Her husband, Robert Snyder, is an assistant professor of biology at SUNY Potsdam. The couple’s college website says they have led students on trips to southwestern China to study the region’s biodiversity.

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