NORTH ELBA, N.Y. (NEWS10)- It’s likely that Thomas Howard, 63, of Westport, Connecticut, died while hiking in the Adirondack High Peaks after possibly getting caught in an avalanche. Howard was found buried under four feet of snow by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Friday, March 18. Since no one witnessed the event, they are not sure if it was an avalanche or snow drifted over his body.

The DEC said they could not confirm these suspicions entirely but believe an avalanche caused his death. They said Howard was found by DEC Forest Rangers partway up the Trap Dike route on Mount Colden and that experts at the National Avalanche Center found evidence of an avalanche at the site.

A winter storm warning was issued on Friday, March 11 for the Adirondacks, the same day Howard signed a registry at Adirondack Loj. That weekend approximately 15 inches of snow fell in Lake Placid.

Howard had planned on staying in the High Peaks through Sunday, March 13. He was reported missing on Wednesday, March 16. At that time Forest Rangers started searching the area for Howard with help from the New York State Police Aviation helicopter. Howard was found two days later. The investigation is ongoing, according to the DEC.

Here’s the DEC’s full statement:

On Friday, March 18 at approximately 10:30 a.m., Thomas Howard was located deceased by DEC Forest Rangers partway up the Trap Dike route on Mount Colden in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The subject was located under approximately 4 feet of snow. Site investigation by DEC Forest Rangers in consultation with experts at the National Avalanche Center have found evidence suggesting an avalanche occurred at the site: however, without an eyewitness, and due to changing snow conditions, it is impossible to say for certain if the snow accumulation was from an avalanche or drifted snow. An investigation by the New York State Police into the cause of death is ongoing. 

DEC