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Ranger Ralph W. Heath | Baxter State Park, Maine Baxter State Park, Maine

Ranger

Ralph W. Heath

Baxter State Park, Maine

End of Watch: Tuesday, October 29, 1963

Bio & Incident Details

Age: Not available

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Exposure

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Ranger Ralph Heath died of exposure while attempting to rescue a woman on Mount Katahdin during a snow storm.

On Monday October 28, 1963, two women climbed to Baxter Peak on Katahdin by way of the Cathedral trail, arriving at the summit at 1:30 PM. After lunch, the two women started out across the Knife’s Edge and became separated. The two continued on their chosen routes and were in verbal contact until one relayed that she was stuck and could not go up or down. The second woman descended to Chimney Pond campground by way of the Dudley trail and alerted Ranger Heath of the situation. At approximately 11 PM the weather changed drastically with a storm that deposited two feet of snow over the course of following next twenty-four hours, and Ranger Heath made two attempts to reach the stranded woman. The second attempt was made at 6 AM October 29 from the base of the Knife’s Edge in an effort to reach the woman from below, this was the last known action made by Ranger Heath. At some point that day, Ranger Heath and the woman succumbed to the elements. Their bodies were recovered the following May.

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You truly showed determination and courage in your efforts. It's a shame that woman lost her life as well, but in some respects, she caused your death as well as her own, and that is a very sad shame.

When people put their own lives in danger and the lives of others just for an adventure, it baffles my mind.

Ranger Heath, you're a hero in every sense of the word and the State of Maine owes you enormous gratitude, as does everyone who ever enjoyed a park.

God Bless you and may your eternal rest be ever peaceful, Brother.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Dept.
February 15, 2016

 

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