Missing Florida hunter, 51, found dead near Savoy State Forest
North Adams Transcript
FLORIDA -- A 51-year-old Florida hunter who had been missing since Saturday was found dead by a search party of roughly 60 emergency responders and family members Sunday morning near Savoy State Forest.
According to officials, Larry Lewis of South Street, died of head trauma after apparently falling 12 feet from a tree stand he'd set up in the forest east of Brown's Garage at 481 Mohawk Trail, in the Drury section of town.
The search party, led by the Florida Volunteer Fire Department, located Lewis' body there at roughly 10:45 a.m.
"We're 99.9 percent sure he fell out of his tree stand," Florida Fire Chief Michael Bedini said Sunday evening. "We don't know if he had a heart attack or just fell asleep and rolled off. ... An autopsy [will be conducted] to see what the cause of death is."
Berkshire County State Police Detective Unit will lead an investigation into the cause of Lewis' death, state police at the Cheshire barracks said Sunday evening.
The search began Sunday after an aunt of Lewis' contacted Bedini at 8 a.m. to report the hunter missing.
According to Bedini, she'd said Lewis was last seen by an uncle Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on South Street, and that she and other family members had spent several hours searching for Lewis on Sunday morning before contacting authorities.
North Adams Police Department's Sunday log indicates that authorities initiated a full search-and-rescue operation for the missing hunter at 8:36 a.m.
Bedini, Florida Fire volunteers and members of Lewis' family were joined by Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department, North Adams Ambulance and state police in the search.
Less than three hours later, the party of roughly 60 people discovered Lewis' body beyond a ravine on the Florida side of the Cold River.
Responders isolated this area by instructing local AT&T representatives to repeatedly "ping" Lewis' cell phone, which he possessed before going missing.
This technique provided precise GPS coordinates of the last location the phone had been in service, and was within the general area of where Lewis was ultimately found.
"[Lewis was] a very avid hunter, and loved hunting during bow season," Bedini said. "We weren't really expecting [his death]. It's something that's hard to see."
Volunteers of Savoy Fire Depart ment also provided aid during the search, manning the Florida station while Florida volunteer firefighters took part in the search.
Bedini thanked firefighters, Lewis' family and other responders for being "a tremendous help."
Lewis is survived by his wife, Joan, and two sons, Chance and Chase.
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