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Sun., Aug. 30
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Search still under way for Tupper teen


TUPPER LAKE - The search for a Tupper Lake man missing since early Sunday morning is ongoing and continues today, according to New York State Police Lt. Scott Heggelke.

Colin W. Gillis, 18, was last seen leaving a social gathering on Paskungameh Road in Tupper Lake early Sunday morning and walking west close to the St. Lawrence-Franklin County line in the Piercefield area. Gillis is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 170 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a white shirt with black stripes, blue jeans and red sneakers.

On Tuesday, more than 300 volunteers along with Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers and New York State Police have been searching a roughly one-mile radius centered around Setting Pole Road near state Route 3. Heggelke said that was where Gillis was last seen. Approximately 2,000 acres have been searched thus far, according to Dave Winchell, DEC public affairs officer.

Heggelke did not confirm whether or not foul play is suspected.

“We’re not going to say yes and we’re not going to say no. This is an open missing person case and we’re going to continue to investigate,” Heggelke said.

“Having 200 volunteers the first day and more than 300 [Tuesday] has allowed us to search a large area in a short amount of time. It is commendable to see the support and concern from the Tupper Lake community,” said Forest Ranger Captain John Streiff.

Winchell said in an email that the DEC is calling for fewer volunteers today. Only those with search experience and proper footwear, clothing, and gear will be given a search assignment.

“The search tomorrow [Wednesday] will concentrate on more technical areas along water and other hard-to-reach locations,” Winchell’s email reads. “DEC does not want to compound the concerns of the community by having someone injured while searching for Mr. Gillis.”

Today, rescuers are expected to be utilizing a State Police helicopter, a DEC air boat and other specialized equipment to search along the waters of Raquette Pond, Piercefield Flow, and the Raquette River.

On Sunday, Colin Gillis’ brother Lyndon scrambled to the North Country from his Utica home upon hearing his brother was missing.

“I started searching about 4:30 or 5:00 Sunday evening. I searched through the night, through the morning into Monday,” Lyndon Gillis said. On Tuesday night, he traveled to Utica to gather more supplies and back to Tupper Lake to continue his search.

He does not know why his brother was walking in a westward direction when their family’s home was to the east of the Paskungameh Road gathering. Colin Gillis is a SUNY Brockport freshman home on spring break.

“No one knows; that’s the million dollar question,” Lyndon Gillis replied when asked why his brother was walking west. “He’s not the type of to just disappear and not call anybody.

“Anybody that has any type of lead, anything, please call the DEC or State Police,” Lyndon Gillis said.

Anyone who believes they may have information relating to the whereabouts of Colin Gillis is urged to contact the New York State Police at (518)897-2000 or the Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 897-1200.

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