Shift in search for missing Guilderland man in Thacher Park

NEW SCOTLAND — After 4,500 work hours, the field search for Bruce L. Decker, the Guilderland resident presumed missing in John Boyd Thacher State Park since last week, ended as of March 1 as a storm left two feet of snow in the park, according to a weekly report on forest ranger activities compiled by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The search has switched to a “limited-continuous search operation,” after all reasonable efforts to locate Decker have been made, according to a release from the state’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Decker, 71, has been missing in Thacher Park since at least Wednesday, Feb. 21, when when his car was identified by park police. Investigators then went to his home, and determined Decker had not been there since at least Monday, Feb. 19. Video footage from inside the John Boyd Thacher State Park Visitor Center places Decker in the park on Feb 19.

A limited-continuous search operation means periodic spot searches of the parks’ trails, interior swamps, cliff edges, rock formations, and waterfalls, by park police and rescue partners, who will deploy rope technicians, use drones or use State Police aviation, and dog teams to continue the search, according to the release from the parks department.

No trace of Decker had been found, the forest ranger report said.

The complicated park geography made the search difficult, Randy Simons, a department spokesman, told The Enterprise last week.

Also complicating matters, was that no missing-person report had been filed for Decker, and, when park police identified his car, no family member could be found to confirm that Decker was missing.

Thacher State Park was dissected into grids that allowed rescuers and volunteers to deploy each day to each block for methodical and thorough searching. More than 4,500 search hours involved nearly 20 search-and-rescue and volunteer organizations during the more-than-weeklong daily dawn-to-dusk search spanning 2,442 acres inside Thacher State Park with much of the acreage combed over multiple times, according to the release from the parks department.

The release from DEC also said:

The DEC credited six state agencies, including 40 members of Department of Correctional and Community Services Corrections Emergency Response Team, Albany County Sheriff's Department, eight Albany County fire departments, and 12 volunteer search-and-rescue teams. Search operations included 2,442 acres of intensive searching, 502 acres of extensive searching, 56.7 miles of trails, 355 acres of drone searching, and 4.5 square miles of state police helicopter searching.

Park police describe Decker as a white male; approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall with gray hair, who was last seen wearing gray pants, a black jacket, a gray plaid scarf, and dark boots.

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