Grid search underway for missing Australian soldier

RAY BROOK – Volunteers have been called in to help search the woods for an Australian man who’s been missing for more than 10 days.

A pair of state forest rangers and three members of the state police Special Operations Response Team are conducting a grid search today between Ray Brook and Lake Placid for Paul McKay, 31, of Canberra, Australia, state Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman David Winchell said in an email. Four other rangers are setting markers and lines in preparation for a wider search effort set to begin Saturday.

Certified search volunteer teams from the New York State Federation of Search and Rescue, under the supervision of forest rangers, will conduct grid searches Saturday, Winchell said. The volunteers include members of Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks, the Central Adirondacks Search and Rescue Team, Lower Adirondacks Search and Rescue and Search Team 5-1. A pair of canine search teams will also be involved in the effort. There are no plans for an aerial search this weekend, Winchell said.

McKay was last seen around noon Dec. 31 on the railroad tracks near the federal prison in Ray Brook, walking east toward Lake Placid. A witness told police he was carrying a large backpack and had a winter coat and snow pants, possibly dark colored.

Winchell said the area that’s been searched so far is bounded by state Route 86, Averyville Road and Pine Pond Road, which is mostly state Forest Preserve land.

“The (grid) searches this weekend will be concentrated from Scarface Mountain north between Ray Brook Pond and essentially the golf course,” Winchell said.

A member of the Australian Army, McKay was on leave when he flew to the U.S. on Dec. 29 and traveled by bus to Saranac Lake on Dec. 30. He spent that night at the Best Western Mountain Lake Inn, during which time he sent an email to his father leaving him all his possessions. Police have also said McKay suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that his family did not know he had come to the U.S.

A command post has been set up at the DEC Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook.

Anyone with information about McKay’s whereabouts is asked to call village police at 518-891-4428 or DEC dispatch at 518-897-1300.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or