|Body Found on Florida Hiking Trail in rural Okeechobee County|
|Tuesday, 12 January 2010 16:27|
Sheriff Paul C. May has released the following information:
Case Officer: Detective Ted Van Deman
Re: Body Found on Florida Hiking Trail in rural Okeechobee County
On 01/11/10 at 12:52 PM, Deputies responded to a rural hiking trail in NW Okeechobee County in reference to a dead body.
Members of the Florida Trail Association were hiking a newly opened and remote area of the Florida Hiking Trail on Monday when they discovered a dead body. The body was located 100 yards, off of the road, south of Hwy 98, 300 yards north of the intersection of NW 144th Trail (Lofton Road). The body, that of a middle aged white male, was found partially submerged and clinging to a barbed wire fence. The area the body was found in was very rough terrain and is a swamp adjacent to Chandler Slough. This terrain consists of water grass and cypress trees (with the associated roots and “cypress knees” jutting up from under the water) and is submerged with up to 4 feet of water.
The deputies called for the assistance of FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) who had specialized equipment to assist in the recovery of the victim. Deputies along with FWC were able to recover the victim. The victim was taken to Ft. Pierce Medical Examiner’s Office for an examination to determine the cause of death. At the time of the recovery, there was no evidence of foul play. It is still being investigated as to the cause of death, but the cold weather has not been ruled out.
The victim is as follows:
Keith R. Galaise
W/M 09/18/1956 (53 years of age)
43 Berkshire School Rd.
The initial investigation shows that Galaise, a member of the Florida Trail Association, was hiking the Florida Trail from the Okee-Tantie area in SW Okeechobee County with the destination of Orlando, Florida. He regularly hiked in Florida as his vacation. It is believed that he started his hike on Thursday 01/07/10. The trip was to last several days. The victim was carrying a large backpack with all the supplies needed for a week long hike in warm weather. The Sheriff’s Office had not found where the victim had left an itinerary with anyone so that help could be called in case he failed to show. In addition to that dangerous practice, he was hiking alone in bad weather.
On 01/12/2009, the Ft. Pierce Medical Examiner provided a preliminary ruling of the death as accidental hypothermia. The official findings will not be provided until lab results return in 9 weeks.
For any further information, please contact:
Detective Ted Van Deman, Public Information Officer
Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office
504 NW 4th Street
Okeechobee, Florida 34972
(863) 763- 3117