Police identify local man who died in High Peaks

LAKE PLACID – State police say 36-year-old Kevin T. Benham drowned Tuesday in Marcy Brook, a quarter-mile upstream from Marcy Dam in the High Peaks Wilderness.

The Saranac Lake resident’s death was ruled accidental by Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw. Benham’s autopsy was completed Wednesday by Dr. C. Francis Varga.

In a written statement issued Wednesday afternoon, state police say Benham “was found unresponsive, in Marcy Brook,” by other hikers who then called 911.

Several attempts were made to save Benham. A doctor who had been hiking tried to help, and forest rangers attempted CPR, to no avail. Medical personnel at Adirondack Medical Center later advised forest rangers to discontinue CPR.

Whitelaw pronounced Benham dead at 5:45 p.m., according to state police. Benham’s body was brought out on a utility task vehicle, also known as a side-by-side.

Benham had Huntington’s disease, a hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is no effective treatment or cure. The disease slowly diminishes a person’s ability to walk, talk and reason. His mother died from the ailment, and two brothers who also struggled with it are now dead.