Missing Herkimer County teen reported she was hiding in tree from bear

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TOWN OF WEBB — A 19-year-old girl who was reported missing in Herkimer County Tuesday night told law enforcement she spent the night up a tree, hiding from a bear.

State police said Rachel Smith, 19, was last seen leaving her home on Brisby Road in Old Forge at about 7 p.m. Tuesday. Roughly 400 people joined a search party Tuesday evening, many of whom searched throughout the night, authorities stated.

State police said Smith was found safe and sound Wednesday morning.

Troopers said Smith told investigators that she was running on a trail in the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness Area when she stumbled upon some bear cubs. When the mother bear appeared, Smith told troopers that she climbed a tree to get away and stayed in the tree all night.

Smith told police that she did not have her cell phone and the batteries died in her Garmin GPS device. Smith told investigators that she climbed down at daybreak and found her way back to the trail.

Smith told troopers she ran into someone she knew who was part of the search party, and that person gave her a ride home. Smith called 9-1-1 when she got home to report what happened, troopers stated.

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