/

Missing AT hiker died of exposure, lack of food and water

6 mins read
Photos courtesy of the Maine Warden Service. 01) Last known photo of Geraldine Largay taken at Poplar Lean-to July 22, 2013.
Last known photo of Geraldine Largay taken at Poplar Lean-to July 22, 2013. (Photo courtesy of the Maine Warden Service)

AUGUSTA – Skeletal remains found on Oct. 14, 2015, in Redington Township were confirmed through DNA analysis by the state’s medical examiner as Geraldine Largay. Her death was ruled accidental, resulting from a lack of food, water and exposure.

An experienced hiker, Largay was last seen on the early morning of Monday, July 22, 2013, at Poplar Lean-to on the AT in Maine.

The Warden Service said that after examination of the remains and working in conjunction with information from investigators on the case, the chief medical examiner determined this was “an accidental death due to lack of food and water and environmental exposure,” according to Cpl. John MacDonald, spokesman for the Warden’s Service.

The cell phone found in Geraldine’s possession has been examined by the Maine State Police Computer Crime Lab. Information found on the cell phone concluded that Largay reached Orbeton Stream and the discontinued railroad bed crossing in the late morning of July 22, 2013. Shortly after reaching that intersection, she continued north on the AT and at some point left the trail and became lost. The exact location where she departed the trail is unknown.

The remains were found on Wednesday, Oct. 14, by a contractor conducting a forestry survey as part of an environmental impact statement on property owned by the U.S. Navy in Redington Township. The contractor reported his findings to the Navy who subsequently alerted the Maine Warden Service. Personnel to include game wardens, State Police personnel, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigators, and a Medical Examiner’s Office representative hiked to the scene of the remains Thursday morning Oct. 15.

According to MacDonald, “the scene included skeletal remains and several pieces of clothing and belongings consistent with items known to be in Largay’s possession. The remains were located west of the Maine Public Reserve Land that contains a portion of the AT and about 3,500 feet east of the easterly shore of Redington Pond.

“These findings now bring closure to one of Maine’s most unique and challenging search and rescue incidents,” he said.

Geraldine “Gerry” Anita Largay, 66, started her hike on the AT in April of 2013 at Harpers Ferry, W.V.; her trail name was “inchworm.” Her destination was Baxter State Park in Maine. Her husband George Largay kept track of her along the way and made frequent predetermined stops to resupply her.

Map showing Appalachian Trail highlighting Poplar Ridge Lean-to, Spaulding Lean-to and Geraldine’s final location discovered October 14, 2015.
Map showing Appalachian Trail highlighting Poplar Ridge Lean-to, Spaulding Lean-to and Geraldine Largay’s final location discovered Oct. 14, 2015. (Map courtesy of the Maine Warden Service)

On the morning of Sunday, July 21, 2013 she departed from her husband at the Route 4 AT crossing in Sandy River Plantation near the town of Rangeley. Later that day, she texted her husband and advised she was on top of Saddleback Mountain. Geraldine Largay was last seen on the early morning of Monday, July 22 at Poplar Lean-to on the Appalachian Trail in Maine. She was planning to hike that day to Spaulding Lean-to in Redington Township, approximately eight miles to the north. On Tuesday, July 23, she had planned to continue hiking north from Spaulding Lean-to located in Mount Abram Township to meet her husband who was waiting for her at the Route 27 crossing. She never arrived at that location.

The Maine Warden Service wishes to thank the many law enforcement and EMS organizations, search and rescue volunteers, and local business owners who generously gave their time and resources.

“We consistently see the community spirit in Maine and this is another fine example of a community coming together to assist in helping a person and family in need,” MacDonald said.

The Largay family issued a statement: “We wish to thank all of those who gave their time and prayers while searching for our wife, sister, mother, and grandmother. We especially would like to thank the entire Maine Warden Service for their dedication to this case. It became apparent from day one that this was personal to them and they would not rest until Gerry was found. After all of the communication and information from everyone involved including the Medical Examiner’s Office, Navy, and the Maine Attorney General’s Office, these findings are conclusive in that no foul play was involved and that Gerry simply made a wrong turn shortly after crossing Orbeton Stream. Now that we know her death was an accident, we again ask all media for the respect of our privacy as we continue our grieving process with this new chapter of closure.”

On Oct. 15, 2015 searchers walk in a line looking for Largey's remains.
On Oct. 15, 2015 searchers walk in a line looking for Largey’s remains. (Warden Service photo)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email