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Police: Hiker Found Dead In Rockland Lake State Park

CONGERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- In the bitter cold darkness rescue crews and canine units were relentless in their search for hiker Colleen Murphy.


WCBS 880's Sean Adams reports from Rockland County

But the search ended Tuesday night and not the way anyone had hoped, reported CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez.

Murphy's body was found inside Rockland Lake State Park. The 47-year-old, who was an experienced hiker, wandered off the main trail and somehow slipped off a cliff, investigators said at Tuesday night's 10 p.m. press conference.

Police said Murphy fell 300 feet off of a cliff, 1010 WINS' Terry Sheridan reported.  The body of the woman's dog was also found about 150 feet from the cliff.  It is still unclear what caused the woman to fall.

On Sunday the Valley Cottage woman and her 5-year-old dog Jemma went hiking at the park. Family and friends became concerned when she failed to show up for work Monday. When she still didn't return phone calls Tuesday morning, her father called police.

Officers rushed to the state park.

"We found her car not too far from where we're standing. And we started a search at that time for her," Clarkstown Police Capt. Robert Mahon said.

Choppers, all terrain vehicles, and searchers on foot trekked through the park and all its trails.

By nightfall only New York State Park Police continued to look for Murphy. Police pinged her cell phone and detected it inside the park grounds.

Avid hikers told Sanchez even the most experienced hikers should not take on Rockland Lake State Park's trails alone, especially under snow and ice conditions.

"There's a mirage in a way where the rocks can appear to be different," hiker Jaymee Minner said. "You place a misstep you can fall and there's ditches and stuff up there that even for an avid hiker I wouldn't try to hike alone or do anything without a cell phone or backup or any sort of guidance."

When Murphy first went missing Police said friends searched. Officers went to her condo, where she lived alone, and found no one.

Police then learned that the woman had sent a text message to a friend on Sunday saying she was going hiking, possibly at Rockland Lake State Park. They found her car at the park.

Police said the region's recent heavy snowfalls made for "hard going" in the wooded park, which affords cliffside views of the Hudson River 28 miles from Manhattan.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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