LAKE PLACID — Early in its fifth day, the search for a missing Lake Placid man ended tragically.
Lake Placid Village Police working with a multi-agency task force just after 10 a.m. Friday found the body of Seth Kilburn behind a private residence on the hillside along McKinley Street.
He apparently fell in the dark off a wooded path some 600 to 900 feet from his family’s home.
The area in front of the house had been searched earlier but not the private property on the hill behind it.
Lake Placid Police Chief William Moore confirmed the somber news at a press conference, saying the missing-person search for Kilburn had come to a sad conclusion.
Authorities were able to identify Kilburn, and his body was removed from the wooded site and brought to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for autopsy.
“The manner of death is undetermined,” the chief said, pending results from Medical Examiner Dr. C. Francis Varga.
"At this point in the investigation, we don't suspect foul play."
Police are awaiting toxicology results to see if alcohol or drugs were a factor.
“He was basically in plain sight, but not in an area you could see from the road,” Moore said.
The home is owned by an elderly person who could not conduct a search outside, police said.
“It appears Seth quite possibly fell off an embankment,” Moore told the Press-Republican.
“There was a dropoff at the location where he fell, from four to 10 feet.”
Moore said there was debris at the site where Kilburn landed.
Police do not know the actual time of death, but Moore said it is very likely Kilburn died as a result of the fall.
He was alone at the time, having last been seen at about 1 a.m. on Sunday, walking toward home after leaving Wiseguys Nightclub.
There is a wooded shortcut that connects the Main Street/School Street area through the hillside neighborhood to Mill Pond Drive, Moore said.
Kids walking back and forth to school have used it for a long time. And Kilburn, having grown up in the village and attended Lake Placid schools, would have known that path.
He was found slightly off the path by a team of Essex County Sheriff’s deputies accompanied on their search team by a village official.
“He may have gotten off the path in an unlit area,” the chief said.
The Kilburn family has asked for privacy in their time of grief.
Joan Grady, a life-long family friend, remembered Kilburn as a kind and loving man.
“Seth was a great man. Funny. A great family man. A wonderful father, great son and a great friend of ours. He was just down-to-earth and a really nice man.
"At least the Kilburns have closure,” she said.
He leaves behind two small children; his parents, Celeste and Tony; and one sister, Emily.
Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall was at the Fire Station with police as the sad news was released.
“Seth certainly is a native son,” the mayor said.
“This is a sad day for the community and certainly for his family. And he will be missed.”
Grady said the Kilburns are deeply grateful for all the volunteers who helped in the search — for the Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers and professional search crews, for State Police personnel and especially for the effort of the Lake Placid Police Department.
“We would greatly like to thank everybody in Lake Placid,” she said.
Four days of searching that began Monday had turned up nothing.
On Friday morning, Moore said, the search was restructured with nine uniformed teams going door to door, asking permission from property owners to cover every inch of backyards, starting near where Kilburn had lived with his parents on Mill Pond Drive.
DEC Forest Ranger Capt. John Streiff said urban search procedures are far more difficult and complex than searches in the wilderness — with private land involved and exponentially more man-made objects to obstruct a rescuer’s view.
The location where Kilburn fell could not have been spotted from the air, Streiff said.
In all, about 60 paid and volunteer searchers helped in the effort to find Kilburn, including fire department personnel from Saranac Lake, Jay, Ausable Forks, Keene, Saranac and Wilmington.
Teams from Search and Rescue in the Northern Adirondacks and the Champlain Valley K-9 Unit also assisted.
On Thursday, authorities in Lake Placid had even drawn down the dam on Mill Pond in the event Kilburn had fallen in the water.
The Lake Placid native son would have turned 35 in October, according to police.
Email Kim Smith Dedam: email@example.com