Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

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Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby dave » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:04 pm

On December 2, 2011 (Friday) around 11 PM a hiker named Saudha Pamidimukkala, her 10-year-old daughter, and two other adult hikers arrived at the Elm Ridge Lean-to on Windham High Peak. The Elm Ridge Lean-To is located on NYS Forest Preserve. When they arrived the Lean-To already had three other people occupying the Lean-To. The three people already in the Lean-To were Patrick J McDonald, 26, of Garden City, Patrick McDonald, 60, and John McDonald, 20. The three McDonald men had illegally erected two tents inside the Lean-To. Under NYS law, you cannot put a tent inside a DEC Lean-To. You can erect a tent outside of the Lean-To as long as it is 150' off the trail. Under NYS Law you MUST share the Lean-To with any other hikers who show up later.

When Saudha arrived she requested space for her hiking party to sleep in the Lean-To. Apparently, the 26-year-old Patrick J McDonald was upset by this requested. He jumped out of the tent undressed and immediately assaulted Saudha by forcefully knocking her to the ground. By this time another undress McDonald man came out of his tent and started to kick Saudha. While the other McDonald man was kicking Saudha while she was on the ground, the 26-year-old Patrick J McDonald returned to his tent and retrieved a shotgun. He approached Saudha while she was on the ground and threaten to kill her. He demanded that she and her party leave immediately. In lieu of being murdered in front of her 10-year-old daughter, Saudha and her hiking party quickly returned to the parking lot.

The three McDonald men then returned to their tent and started to put their clothing on. Once fully clothed, the started to pursue and chase Saudha down the trail to the parking lot. Saudha then called the police and DEC Police Officers. Once in the parking lot they quickly climbed back into their car, and drove down Peck Road. The McDonald men then chased Saudha down Peck Road.

While being chased by the McDonald men, the police apprehended the McDonald men's car. Greene County Sheriffs arrested Patrick J McDonald, 26 with 2nd degree menacing. The DEC Police Officers then added additional charges of illegal actions on NYS Forest Preserve Property.

It should be noted the following NYS laws in regards to Lean-To's: Lean-tos are available in many areas on a first come first served basis. Lean-tos cannot be used exclusively and must be shared with other campers." (source=NYS DEC). Additionally, you CANNOT pitch a tent inside of a Lean-To.

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Elm Ridge Lean-To in the Winter

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Elm Ridge Lean-To in the Fall

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Elm Ridge Camping area and Fire Ring by the Lean-To in the Fall

You can read more about this story on the Watershed Post

Here is Saudha Pamidimukkala Statement she made on another page:

Fellolw hikers,

On my backpacking trip to Windham this Friday evening we planned to camp in the lean-to and not carry tents. When we made it to the lean-to around 11 pm, the front of the lean-to was completely covered in plastic. My first thought was that they are doing some work on it. The plastic was actually stapled to the lean-to and when I peeked thru, I found two tents and all inside walls covered with heat deflecting material. A man popped his head out the tent and I started to say that we would like to camp in there. Before I can finish, he came out cursing and told us to get out. Of course I refused and tried to stand my ground and another man charged out of the lean-to, pushed me down to the ground and kept kicking so I couldn’t get up. Mean while the first guy went in and came out with a shot gun, cocked it and said if I don’t leave he will kill me. I don't know what they were doing there but they didn't even want us camping aroudn the lean-to.

I had my 10 year old daughter and two other HVH hikers with me. I probably would have tried to stand my ground and in the process get shot but for the group convincing me to get back to our car. On our way down we noticed the head lights behind us. The men actually chased us all the way back to the parking lot. The only advantage we had was that they had to get dressed to come after us. We barely made it to the cars and drove out to meet the DEC officer on the main road whom we called right after the incidence on our hike back to the car. The men actually followed us in their car probably to make sure that we are leaving.

The officers did stop the guys when they were trying to leave later that night and gave them tickets and we did tell the officers that we would like to file a case and will be willing to testify. Even though I feel the guys have come out just to distract the cops from coming up to the lean-to where they are probably hiding something…

It’s sad that my 10 years old now thinks that the woods are the most dangerous place to be and even in the wild places, all we need to fear is our own kind…
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby mike » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:22 pm

I don't understand why people want to put tents inside of Lean-To's. I have seen it before. Most people are not aware that it is illegal to do it.

These guys sound a little crazy. He is lucky he only got charged with Menacing.

Real sad situation for everyone.
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby Levi » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:54 pm

It sounds a little off to me.
She said the McDonalds followed her down the trail...OK
And they followed her in their car...OK
She said she meet the Police at main road, I presume that to be Big Hollow Rd...OK
Then she said the McDonalds were given a ticket as they were leaving later that nite?
Later that nite? What did they do, go back to leanto get their gear then leave?
I guess the police waited for them to drive back to the PA, hike up, pack up their gear
& hike back down !
If she was gone why didnt they just spend the nite in leanto?
Also if she was pushed to the ground and kicked with a loaded & cocked gun pointed
at her, I say the police let them get away with nothing more that a slap on the wrist.
They should be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, a felony.
To many things dont add up. Like I said, it all sounds a little off to me......Levi
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby mike » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:24 pm

From what I understand the Sheriff arrested the one guy for menacing. The DEC police went up to the Lean-To and then ticketed them for other items. Probably got tickets for tent in a lean-to and refusing to allow others to use the lean-to, and whatever else they could find.

I suspect that the witnesses might have saw things differently or missed seeing key evidence, and proving their case in court might be difficult. But yes, I would have expected more significant charges against the men. Menacing charge is hard to beat in court. Maybe the Sheriff just wants a conviction.

I serious doubt that the girl is anti-hunting, or she had an agenda. I know some people who have hiked with her. She has always been fairly normal. Some people are just crazy. Crazy people can be hikers or hunters. I suspect that the hunters believed that they could "claim" the lean-to as theirs to use, and felt that she was violating their space. I have seen this before. I have also seen people put tents in Lean-to. I think that it was a misunderstanding of the rules, and things spiraled out of control.
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby mtnclimber » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:38 am

I suspect that the hunters believed that they could "claim" the lean-to as theirs to use, and felt that she was violating their space. I have seen this before. I have also seen people put tents in Lean-to. I think that it was a misunderstanding of the rules, and things spiraled out of control.


Sounds like a reasonable explanation. Deer ticks are making their way up WHP, so maybe the guys wanted the tents to prevent this. Pulling a gun on an unarmed women sound excessove. Then pursuing her until the police arrived seems a bit excessive too. The guys sound a little crazy to me too. I guess it is possible that she was pushy or intolerant on the rules, and this may have hit their hot buttons. Even if she did that, their actions were not justified. Has anyone heard what happen in court?
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby Levi » Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:38 pm

Mike, U suspect the girl is telling the truth and has no beef with hunting or
is anti-gun, & the police actually hiked up to the leanto. Lets say this all checks out.
Also, I just learned the the charge of menacing is in fact a felony. Now the
story more belivable....Levi
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby mike » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:23 am

In spite of what most people think, most hikers are not anti-gun or anti-hunting. Some get upset when someone sends a bullet their way without seeing the target. But, good hunters get upset about this too. Most have high respect for those very experienced hunters. You know, the bow&arrow guys. It is the unresponsible hunters who get people upset. The ones who shot at anything that might be a target without seeing it first. One of the most avid hikers I know is also a hunter and expert pistol shooter. He is always going to some pistol shooting competition.

In my experience, most of the very experienced hunters tell me some great places to go hiking. they are always exploring, and finding awesome places. They can be a great resource for hikers. I have learned some pretty cool stuff from them. Sometimes they learn good stuff from me too.

As for the girl, she has never been anti-gun or anti-hunter. She had an incident about a year or two ago where her dog got lost, and she took a lot of grief over it. Oh, I am sure the DEC police hiking up to the lean-to. When they hear of something, they go right in. They are required to hike and bushwhack a certain number of miles each year. They also have to know the area inside-and-out. Same goes with Rangers. You would be amazed the places I have seen them. Yes, menacing is a felony, and this guy will probably spend some time in jail. And, rightly so.

About 15 years ago, I was in a store waiting in line to get checked out. When I put my stuff on the conveyor belt, the girl (and her mother) flipped out. She started to scream at me that I had no right to put my stuff on the belt. I also worked in retail for a couple years, so I knew what was appropriate and what wasn't. I knew this was going to spiral out of control. I immediately told the clerk that she needed to call security, because I had a lot of experience as to where this was headed. I then told the girl that I had every right to put my stuff on the belt. She then punched me in the face. I told her that when security got there, I would have her arrested if she was still here. She then left the store screaming at the top of her lungs. Trust me, there are crazy people out there.
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby Mitch » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:13 pm

I just hope that the few crazy people out there don't ruin the whole thing for others with more rules, regulations, and security in response to acts such as this one.
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby Levi » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:53 pm

Unfortunatly there are jerks in every outdoor sport and in all walks of life. But these guys
are worse that that. They are just plain a--holes. Because of the actions of the few, like
the McDonalds, the anti-gun crowd keeps gaining momemtum to further step on our
2nd Amendment Rights.
I have seen DEC Forest Rangers several times up high in the Catskills,
however always on a trail. Never have I seen DEC Police in the woods or even at a PA.
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Re: Serious assault of a hiker on Windham Mtn

New postby mtnclimber » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:16 am

Maybe these guys were on drugs, or had been drinking. I suppose they might just be crazy. Or, maybe both. Sounds like they are in real trouble with the law.
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