January 18, 2013

Trio to receive Scouting heroism award

PAUL SMITHS — On Sunday, two Boy Scouts and their longtime outdoor-guide mentor will receive the Honor Award with Crossed Palms.

It is the highest medal of honor given for heroism by the Boy Scouts of America. 

Ian McMullen of Lake Placid, Luke Eckert of Paul Smiths and their whitewater instructor and mentor, Jason Smith, 41, of Saranac Lake, are being commended for a high-risk rescue and attempted resuscitation on the Moose River about 15 months ago.

An experienced Adirondack guide with Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters in Saranac Lake, Jason had been guiding Ian and Luke on Scouting adventures with the Lake Placid Outing Club since their first flat-water paddling days some eight years earlier.

Ian, 21, is now a New York state outdoor guide, licensed for whitewater, hiking, camping and canoe trips. He is a student at Albany College of Pharmacy.

Luke, 18, attends North Country Community College where he is studying film and photography.


In a recent interview, Ian explained what happened on Oct. 16, 2011 as the three experienced paddlers guided a group along a waterway still swollen from Tropical Storm Irene rains.

“It wasn’t a very nice day at all,” Ian said. “It had been raining and kind of sleeting throughout the day.”

They had traveled to Moosefest, a kayaking festival on the Moose River, with the Lake Placid Outing Club.

“There were lots of people on the river. We go up every year — we had seven paddlers, including a couple of up-and-comers, so we were doing a section of river that was a little easier,” Ian said.

The group came upon a Class 3 section of rapids known as “Iron Bridge” and saw a tree fallen across part of the river.

“The tree went right across the standard (paddling) line for that part of the river,” Ian explained.

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