The Saranac Lake man who was found dead in a snowbank in April succumbed to hypothermia.

Gary Sklaryk went missing shortly after New Year's Day, and, after a multi-agency search that lasted more than three months, he was discovered in the backyard of 28 Keene St. in Saranac Lake when the snow began to melt.

The Press-Republican had been trying to get the results of the autopsy since Sklaryk's body was discovered in April, but multiple calls to the Saranac Lake Police Department produced no details until this week.

Officials were not able to determine how long Sklaryk had been lying in the snowbank, but Saranac Lake Police Chief Bruce Nason said the man most likely died of exposure during the early morning hours of Jan. 2, fewer than 24 hours after he was reported missing.

Within a couple days of that report, almost two feet of snow fell across the area. About a foot fell in one of those night alone, Nason said.

Sklaryk's autopsy, which was conducted by Adirondack Medical Center Forensic Pathologist Dr. Jolie Rodriguez, found no injuries. And although three prescription drugs were found in his system, the levels were not toxic, Nason said.

"Our investigation was consistent with those findings," Nason said. "There was nothing to suggest otherwise."

But those drugs could have contributed to his exposure and eventual demise, the chief added.


Sklaryk was returning from an acquaintance's home that night and was most likely headed back to his house at 307 Ampersand Ave, police said.

His acquaintances were interviewed several times and eventually admitted that Sklaryk had been there, Nason said.

They told police that he had left well after midnight, the chief added.

Several law-enforcement agencies were involved in the search, which blanketed areas of the Saranac River and the railroad tracks as far as Bullhead Point.

Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers assisted in the search throughout the village, in abandoned buildings and along roadsides.

State Police also conducted a canine search.

Police received a number of leads from Malone and Tupper Lake and from as far away as White River Junction in Vermont about possible sightings.

"We spent a lot of man hours, not only interviewing but also searching," Nason said.


Although the hunt was scaled back as time went on, the department continued to check on credible leads as they materialized, Nason said.

He thanked the public and all law-enforcement agencies that helped with the search.

"Their support and assistance was overwhelming," he said. "I just wish the results would have been different."

Sklaryk had been living with and taking care of his elderly father on Ampersand Avenue when the accident occurred.

He is survived by at least two other family members: two sisters, who don't live in the area.

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