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Missing hiker, dog found dead in Rockland park

February 9, 2011 2:59:14 AM PST
The search for a missing hiker and her dog came to a sad end in Rockland County Tuesday night.

The pair vanished in Rockland Lake State Park Sunday, and their bodies were found around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Now, there are plenty of questions about what happened at this park, along the Hudson River, north of New York City. And sadly, those questions may never be answered.

The search, which was conducted in brutal conditions, concluded with the discovery of 47-year-old Colleen Murphy's body at the base of a cliff. Authorities believe she plunged some 300 feet to her death. Her dog, Jemma was found about 100 feet higher on the same cliff.

"There's places where the rocks just kind of drop off and you can't really tell," area resident Jaymee Minner said. "So if you fell, I'd imagine you'd get hurt pretty easily."

The search relied on state police and rescue dogs from Ramapo. Conditions were so severe and the snow so deep that they had to bring in plows as they searched along the park's buried trails.

Search leaders say Murphy was wearing snow shoes and was familiar with the park. But somehow, she lost track of the hiking trail, walking off the side of the cliff some 200 yards away.

Police believe that Jemma went off the cliff first, and that Murphy likely fell while trying to save the dog. But exactly what happened may never be known.

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