KINGSTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A tragic end in the search for a missing teacher from Queens.
Police said Keith Johnson was found alive on a hiking trail in upstate New York on Saturday and later died.
CBS2’s Lisa Rozner spoke exclusively with his brother on Sunday night.
After anxiously traveling from Nantucket, Massachusetts, to find his younger brother, 46-year-old Keith Johnson, Clifford Johnson was waiting in a hotel room in Kingston to identify his body.
When asked if his brother suffered from drug abuse or mental illness, Clifford Johnson told CBS2’s Rozner, “None whatsoever, and it just … it’s a shock to say the least.”
Keith Johnson was last seen in his Kew Gardens neighborhood a week ago. He told a neighbor he was going camping. On Saturday, police in Shandaken, New York, which is located about two hours north of New York City, said they received information about a missing person. Keith Johnson’s grey Hyundai sedan was found at the Woodland Valley Trailhead. Several miles from there, forest rangers found him unresponsive.
“They did find him. He was semi conscious, severely hypothermic,” Clifford Johnson said through tears.
Clifford Johnson was told his brother would live, but a few hours later he found out he was dead.
“The worst part about it was I was in the parking lot when he was alive,” Clifford Johnson said, “but I guess something happened by the time paramedics got up there because it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour to three-and-a-half-hour hike to where he was.”
The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating, but does not believe there was any foul play, CBS2’s Rozner reported.
“He could have been hurt and just couldn’t physically get down himself. He could have sprained his ankle or something,” Clifford Johnson said.
Clifford said he believes a couple hours would have made the difference in his brother surviving.
“Things could have been taken more serious than they were and kind of taken to heart what the (school) principal, teachers, me, there neighbors were saying — that it’s very unlike him to disappear like this,” he said.
The NYPD said Keith Johnson was reported missing Wednesday and state law enforcement was also notified at that time to look for him at camp sites.
Colleagues at PS 29 in College Point where he taught for two decades said he never took off time without explanation.
“That was his family. He wasn’t married. He didn’t have children, and I think that teaching was his family and his children and he loved it,” Clifford Johnson said.
Another one of Keith Johnson’s loves was hiking.
The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.