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Swimmer still missing near Bash Bish Falls; Massachusetts State Police continue to search

Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media The signs posted at the base of the trail leading to Bash Bish Falls in Taconic State Park in Copake where police searched for a reported missing swimmer Friday night.
July 29, 2017 12:53 pm

COPAKE — Massachusetts State Police were still searching as of 10 a.m. Saturday for a swimmer who was reported missing in the Bash Bish Falls area Friday night.

According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s office, one of the several local agencies that responded first to the report, at approximately 8:16 p.m. emergency responders were dispatched to the Bash Bish Falls area in Copake Falls for a reported missing swimmer. Sheriff’s deputies, Copake Fire District, Community Rescue Squad, New York State Park Police, Hudson Fire Department, Egremont Fire Department and Athens Fire Department Dive Team also responded.

The search team looked at water holes, with Copake and Hudson fire departments, along with divers from the Hudson Fire Department, working their way up the falls from the lower end of the stream; Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies and the dive team, Egremont firefighters and the low-angle rescue team started at the top of the falls and worked their way down. Divers from the upper side of the falls had to be lowered by ropes into the pools to conduct their search.

“The terrain is extremely treacherous,” said Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett. “Sheer rock cliffs, slippery rocks, treacherous swift water and the lack of light in a remote area absolutely hampered our efforts to locate this individual.”

After several hours of searching, responders concluded that the swimmer must have made it to the Massachusetts side of the falls.

At that point, the Massachusetts State Police and the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team were called in to assist with the search.

A helicopter from the Massachusetts Police attempted to search the falls utilizing infrared as well as spot lights.

The search was officially handed over to the Massachusetts State Police at 11:30 p.m. Friday, and the swimmer has yet to be found.