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Rescuers find suicidal man, 72, on Ramapo Reservation after 5½-hour search

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

UPDATE : Concerns that a suicidal 72-year-old Mahwah man might be carrying a handgun brought police to the Ramapo Reservation, where they found him exhausted, dazed, but safe after a 5½-hour search that ended just before 2:30 this morning.

The man’s girlfriend called police around 8:40 last night saying she hadn’t seen him since the night before, “which was unusual behavior for him,” Mahwah Police Chief James N. Batelli said.

Batelli said his officers found the man’s wallet, keys and car – along with an unsigned suicide note — at his Ridge Road condominium. Neighbors described the clothing the man, an avid hiker, was wearing when they last saw him around 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon: tan shorts, a white tee-shirts,  white  socks and  sneakers, he said.

Using coordinates they got from his cellphone provider, rescuers narrowed their search to an area of the reservation off Ramapo Valley Road, Batelli said.

Mahwah Police Officer Connington got hold of the man on his cellphone and kept him talking during a search by Bergen County Police Department officers, Mahwah police and a New Jersey State Police Search and Rescue unit, BCPD Lt. Robert Espinosa said.

County officers “heard him on the phone with Officer Connington and located him lying on the side of the mountain” on a trail that leads to a scenic overlook at the reservation, Espinosa said.

Bergen County Police Officers Richard Donohue and Anthony Primiano “converged on him and secured him from further harm,” the lieutenant said.

He had a cut on his head and was “exhausted and possibly under the influence of alcohol and prescription medication,” so emergency workers took him down the mountain on a stretcher to a staging area in the Ramapo Reservation parking lot, Espinosa said.

He was then taken to The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.

No gun was found, Espinosa said.

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