Missing Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Died in Vermont Floods, Police Say

Robert “Steady Eddie” Kerker appears to have gotten caught in a swollen waterway during the historic floods that hit Vermont in July

Photo: Courtesy VSP

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Last week, searchers located the body of missing 67-year-old hiker Robert “Steady Eddie” Kerker in Stockbridge, Vermont’s Stony Brook. Now, police say that Kerker’s death is likely the third water-related casualty stemming from July’s historic floods.

Vermont’s first flood-related death took place after Stephen Davoll, 63, drowned in his water-filled basement a few days after the rain began. Shortly thereafter, 25-year-old Katie Hartnett died after falling into the Huntington River on July 14. Kerker is the only known hiker to have died in  he flooding

Fellow hikers last spotted Kerker in Killington on July 9, when the flooding began in earnest. Friends described Kerker as an experienced hiker, who’d been on the Appalachian Trail for more than a month. 

After Kerker disappeared, Vermont police at first said it was too early to say what had happened to him. Adam Silverman, a state police spokesperson told Vermont Digger: “It could be anything from a hiker who just hasn’t checked in with his family in a few days to someone who is lost…We just need to get more information before we are able to characterize this as anything more than as a missing person.” 

But Kerker’s disappearance took a turn after a witness who had spotted Kerker at Stony Brook Shelter helped searchers target their efforts around the stream of the same name, which had become swollen and dangerous after the rain. Eventually, teams located his body 1.5 miles downstream of where the AT crossed the stream.

“Initial investigation by the state police indicates the death is not suspicious and was related to the severe flooding,” police wrote. “Mr. Kerker was an experienced hiker who began his trek on the Appalachian Trail on June 1 in Bear Mountain, New York.”

Officials are still investigating the incident, and have not officially released a cause of death.


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