The following article was in the Republican-American on 20 July
2001. Read and heed!
Teens call 911 after getting lost near Dudleytown
Friday, July 20, 2001
By Gale Courey Toensing
© 2001 Republican-American
CORNWALL A group of teenagers, looking for supernatural beings in Dudleytown in the wee hours of Thursday morning, got lost in the woods and didn't have a ghost of a chance of finding their way out without help from the state police and emergency rescue volunteers.
Thursday's visitors got more than they bargained for, but it wasn't the paranormal experience they were expecting.
Eleven teenagers in two separate groups were ticketed for simple trespassing, including a 16-year-old who fell down in the rough, hilly terrain and hurt his head, police said. Simple, as opposed to criminal, trespassing carries a mandatory $77 fine instead of a court appearance. Gary Vasas of Seymour was taken by Cornwall ambulance to Sharon Hospital where he was treated and later released, said Lt. Robert Tolomeo, the commanding officer of Troop B.
Vasas and his companions, Jeff Silberkleit, 18, of Oxford and Bryan Miller, 17, James Melko, 18, and Ken Wasko, 17, all of Seymour, were prowling around in the woods when the fall occurred, Tolomeo said.
Tolomeo was roused from sleep in his Fairfield home around 1:30 a.m. by a phone call about the missing youths, and rushed north to join his men in the rescue caper, he said. "One of the kids had a cell phone and had called 911. They didn't know where they were in the woods ... and didn't know how to get out. It's swampy, it's rocky, it's hilly, and it's a mess. But we got them out, gave each a summons for trespassing, sent the hurt boy to the hospital with the fire department, and sent the rest of them on their way," Tolomeo said.
Several state troopers, including some on overtime, two search dogs, emergency rescue volunteers from the Cornwall and Goshen fire departments, and the Life Star helicopter were involved. While troopers searched for the five missing youths, six other young people emerged from the woods, Tolomeo said. They had nothing to do with the missing group, but were also ticketed, Tolomeo said. The six, all from Ridgefield, were: David Grover, 19; James Ahern, 19; Andrew Pitre, 18; Katherine Geraci, 17; James O'Connor, 18; and Blake Hastings, 18.
"I have no idea what they were all looking for up there. It isn't even Halloween, for crying out loud! But I know what I'd like to do. I'd like to go after the parents and sue them for the money we spent looking for them," an exasperated Tolomeo said.
The 750-acre forest is owned by Dark Entry Inc., which comprises local residents who have owned and maintained the land as a nature preserve for more than 75 years. Ever since the summer of 1999 when the low-budget movie "The Blair Witch Project" scared the devil out of millions of moviegoers, groups of young people in search of thrills and chills have come to Dudleytown looking for ghosts. Although Dudleytown is a dark and gloomy place, nothing in its history substantiates the ghost rumors, the residents say. About 15 to 20 farmhouses were built in the area beginning in the 18th century, according to a pamphlet recently written and published by Dark Entry members. With the advent of the railroad, the iron era, and migration west, people left Dudleytown and, by 1900, it was completely abandoned. A legend grew around the tattered stone walls and overgrown cellar holes that Dudleytown was haunted. But townspeople dismiss the ghost stories as rubbish.
"Of course there aren't ghosts and I would really wonder how many people go there one time, see what's there or not there and shrug and say, Gee, I guess that wasn't worth the trouble,'" said Dave Cadwell, a Cornwall volunteer who took part in the rescue. Thursday's event was "the same old, same old. Just kids checking out Dudleytown and getting lost," Cadwell said. But, unfortunately, one of the volunteer emergency workers hurt her leg and had to be carried out of the woods, Cadwell said.
"It wasn't a life threatening injury, but there's a lesson to be learned by all these kids the things you do can hurt other people," Cadwell said.