Police: Hiker Found Dead In Rockland Lake State Park

Colleen Murphy Slipped Off Cliff After Wandering Off Main Trail

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)

Should this tragedy serve as a lesson to us all? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • George Acosta

    It’s amazing how many stupid comments come out of people in the face tragedy? Why comment at all?

    • http://trailtodd.wordpress.com Trail Todd

      The most insecure of people tend to portray themselves as if they are smarter than the victim. It massages their weak sense of self-esteem.
      Fact: This woman was not stupid. She was an experienced hiker, and according to the story, was even wearing the appropriate footwear. But what probably happened was that she made a mistake, wnhich anyone could do, provided they were human, of course. I feel for her family.

  • Rob

    A 47-year old that has been taking good enough care of herself to go hiking and yet some like “Fred” calls her stupid. Obviously she got into more of a situation than she could handle.
    But perhaps, certain people like “Fred” have never had a close call in life because they were just so smart and cautious. I’m sure they never tried to “beat the traffic light” before it changes nor have they “rolled” through a stop sign even though they “looked” and “knew” it was safe. Never have they slipped on a sidewalk , come close to getting hit when crossing a street or even locked keys in a car…. they are just so superior.
    They are so superior and will remind us with writing a pithy, hurtful jab that someone who might have known her or loved her will come across and feel even worse about their loss then they do now.
    Hey “Fred”, how about this… How old were you when you first understood your stated sentiment when explained about you and your parents?

    • Fred

      It’s not superiority. It’s common sense.

  • Rob

    Did you mean this? Or was some other a$$hole using your computer?

  • hawaii bob

    aloha Yeah i wanna know y these hiker idiots go places on terrain like this AKI-ONE? Unless they have death wish Geez what FOOLS aloha hb

  • Sue S

    Why did her father wait until Tuesday morning to call police? If a family member doesn’t show up for work Monday morning, I would have immediately called police. I hope she died instantly for her sake and that she didn’t freeze to death.

  • Frank Taylor

    This is such a tradgedy and so sad what happened to this poor girl and her dog. I do a lot of hiking in Harriman St. Pk. The Catskills, and the Palisades. I like going myself most of the time. I always tell someone where I’am going and what trails i’ll be on and leave a map and phone # of the park police of the area i’ll be hiking in especially in this weather..I also have a cell phone but sometimes you don’t get a signal. Aways tell someone where you are going and stick to the route.

  • Henry

    I believe that the same story had been updated sometime after Thomas read and commented on the original story. Looking on several news sources, I found that the original story was written before the police found the body. Sometime a little before 11:00 PM the stories were updated with the latest breaking news just before the time of the local broadcast news. They did not change the link to the story when they did that.

  • Sydelle Houston

    I have a hard enough time walking on the sidewalks with all the snow and ice, why would you go walking in a state park when there’s ice everywhere?

  • il

    poor doggie froze to death at the top of the cliff trying to reach her or waiting for her to wake up

    • nobody

      Really? I had been wondering how the dog ended up over the cliff. Does anyone know if she fell too?

  • Kenny salako

    In order to avoid this kind of tragedy, It’s always safe to move with a cel phone when hiking or rather with a companion. Well, other hikers will learn from this lesson.


    It is sad that this happened. but what is even sadder, is that you would advitise car sales in the story. BEYOND TASTELESS!

  • Joel

    What part of “Hiker Found Dead” did you NOT understand, Thomas?

    • Joe


    • ericm

      IN DEFENSE OF THOMAS: The caption on the picture says “Police in Rockland County believe missing hiker Colleen Murphy is somewhere in Rockland Lake State Park”, which could lead someone to believe that she hasn’t yet been found…if they didn’t read the rest of the story.

  • thomas

    I hope they find the woman hiker alive. I think people should use more caution when hiking or camping. I do not think these outdoor activities should be enjoyed without a partner/s present.

    Life is very fragile and precautions should be taken to keep everyone safe during outdoor activiies, especially in the winter.

    My prayers to this woman and her family.

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