Experienced Hiker’s Death Linked to Vermont Floods: 3rd Fatality Attributed to Catastrophic July Storms

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hiker missing Appalachian trail killington vermont
Robert Kerker, 67.

The Vermont State Police investigating the death of an experienced hiker on the Appalachian Trail suspect that the severe floods sweeping Vermont may have claimed another life. If verified, the demise of 67-year-old Robert Kerker will mark the third death officials have linked to the destructive storms that have been inundating the state since July 9th.

Robert Kerker, a resident of Rhinebeck, New York, was last seen alive on July 9th, according to the Vermont State Police. His presence was recorded at the Inn at Long Trail in Killington, Vermont, and later the same night at the Stony Brook Shelter, an outpost east of the inn on the renowned Appalachian Trail.

On Friday afternoon, search crews found a body matching Kerker’s description along Stony Brook, a waterway in Stockbridge, approximately 1.5 miles downstream from the trail crossing. The Vermont State Police stated that their initial investigation indicates Kerker’s death is not suspicious and appears tied to the recent flooding events that began on July 10th.

Kerker, known on the trail by his nickname “Steady Eddie,” embarked on his Appalachian journey on June 1st from Bear Mountain, New York. His family notified the National Park Service on Monday that he was overdue for a check-in. Subsequent investigations revealed Kerker did not arrive for a reservation he had at the Norwich Inn on July 14th.

Police note that a witness’s account of the conditions during Kerker’s last known sighting led search crews to concentrate their efforts on Stony Brook. The witness described the heavy rain and subsequent flooding that struck Vermont, which elevated the brook’s water levels and turned the trail crossing into a perilous venture.

Kerker’s death is still subject to further examination, with an autopsy to be conducted to determine the exact cause and manner of death.

The July storms in Vermont have already taken two lives. Stephen Davoll, 63, from Barre, was the first known fatality, drowning in his flooded basement on July 12th. Katie Hartnett, 25, a Burlington resident, died after slipping into the Huntington River in Richmond on July 14th. Officials are still determining whether her death is directly linked to the flooding, depending on multiple factors.

The Vermont State Police and other emergency services are persistently battling the flood’s repercussions as homes, businesses, and lives across the state continue to be affected by the catastrophic summer downpour.

The Vermont State Police was contacted on the evening of July 24th to assist with locating Kerker. Kerker was hiking the northern half of the Appalachian Trail, and his intended direction of travel was north on the Appalachian Trail. He checked in with family weekly, which he had not done since July 9th.

Robert Kerker was last seen at the Inn at Long Trail in Killington, VT.
Trail name ‘Steady Eddie.’

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