Body of missing Australian found (update)

RAY BROOK – A nearly two-week search for a missing Australian solider is over.

The body of Paul John McKay, 31, of Canberra, Australia, was found Wednesday near the summit of Scarface Mountain in Ray Brook, village police Chief Bruce Nason told the Enterprise this morning.

Ray Brook-based state police said later this morning that a body tentatively identfied as McKay was found shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday. Police investigators were flown to the mountain by helicopter.

“No signs of foul play have been determined in the initial investigation,” the state police statement reads.

Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw authorized removal of the body, which police said was flown to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. An autopsy is scheduled today to determine McKay’s cause of death.

Nason said McKay’s family in Australia has been notified. Beyond that, the chief declined to provide any more information until a news conference that’s scheduled to take place later this morning at state police Troop B headquarters in Ray Brook.

A person fitting McKay’s description had last been seen walking east on the railroad tracks near the federal prison in Ray Brook, carrying a large backpack and wearing a winter jacket and snow pants. That was around noon on New Year’s Eve, two days after McKay flew to the U.S. from Australia and then took a bus to Saranac Lake. He spent the night of Dec. 30 at the Best Western Mountain Lake Inn in Saranac Lake and was seen the following morning, walking east on Lake Flower Avenue toward Lake Placid.

McKay’s father reported him missing on Jan. 3. McKay had sent his father an email New Year’s Eve from the hotel, saying he was leaving him all his possessions. His family hadn’t known he had traveled to the U.S.

Police have said Paul McKay was on leave from the Australian Army at the time of his disappearance and that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is an Afghanistan war veteran.

Teams of volunteers led by state forest rangers were brought in over the weekend and on Monday to conduct a grid search for McKay along the railroad tracks east of the federal prison.

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