Chief Charles Burger
37 State Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
For Immediate Release
Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Great Barrington Fire Department Recovers Body of Hiker, 67, from Monument Mountain Yesterday
GREAT BARRINGTON — Chief Charles Burger reports that the Great Barrington Fire Department recovered the body of a missing hiker yesterday on Monument Mountain Reservation last Friday after an eight-hour search and four-hour recovery operation.
The operation began as a rescue operation. Rescuers from the Great Barrington Fire Department and Southern Berkshire Ambulance were dispatched to the mountain at 3:18 p.m. Friday after a 67-year-old woman reported she was injured at the top of the mountain. A GPS ping showed the last known location as Squaw Peak, but the call was soon dropped and subsequent calls by dispatchers and rescuers went unanswered.
Due to the steep and rocky terrain the Sheffield and Egremont Fire Departments were called in for additional manpower and for the department’s additional all-terrain vehicles. The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team was also activated. No one was found.
Searches along all of the trails proved unsuccessful. A strong thunderstorm rolled through with torrential rain, making hiking more dangerous.
Police K-9 units and the State Police arrived on scene later on. The State Police Air Wing was requested but unable to fly due to weather conditions.
The hiker was found at 10 p.m. on a rock cropping. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
A delicate recovery operation then began using multiple crews and rope systems in the darkness. The hiker’s body was finally removed from the scene at 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
The hiker was identified as Joan Sussman, age 67, of Ashley Falls/Sheffield. Family members said she was a frequent climber and regularly hiked Monument Mountain.
“This is an extremely unfortunate situation. On behalf of the entire community and the Great Barrington Fire Department, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victim,” Chief Burger said. “I am very proud of the hard work conducted by our crews, working through the night in poor weather to find and ultimately recover the victim. We wish the outcome was different, however.”
The Great Barrington Police and Fire Departments, the Sheffield and Egremont Fire Departments, the Massachusetts State Police, the Western Mass. Technical Rescue Team, the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, and Southern Berkshire Ambulance all responded. In total, 65 rescuers were on scene.
Monument Mountain is a popular hiking spot where the Fire Department performs multiple rescues each year. This was the second rescue effort performed in the past week. On Aug. 5, firefighters rescued a 22-year-old hiker who injured her ankle on the mountain.
The Stockbridge and Monterey Fire Departments provided station coverage for Great Barrington during the incident and responded to several other incidents.
The incident is under investigation by the Great Barrington Police Department.