Trip to Adirondack camp leads to encounter with famed bounty hunter

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 July 2015 at 12:00 am

‘Dog’ was looking for escaped convicts

Provided photo from Maria Strathearn – Duane “Dog” Chapman, star of a reality TV series, poses with Aaron Strathearn at a gas station in Saranac Lake. Aaron, 14, of Holley was headed to camp and Dog was looking to track down a prison escapee.

HOLLEY – Aaron Strathearn, 14, was leaving for a week-long camp in Saranac Lake, the rewards for being on the High Honor Roll and being active in his 4-H Club.

There was a glitch: The camp in the Adirondacks was close to the manhunt for prison escapee David Sweat, a convicted cop killer. Sweat, 35, and Richard Matt, 49, broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility and had been on the loose for about three weeks.

Matt was tracked down on June 26 and fatally shot by a federal agent.

Aaron was heading to camp while Sweat was still on the run.

“I was a bit nervous sending Aaron to camp with the manhunt focusing 40 miles away,” said Aaron’s mother, Melissa.

On the way to Camp Colby in Saranac Lake, the Strathearns stopped at a gas station. They met a famous person, Duane “Dog” Chapman. He is a star of a reality TV series that shows him kicking in doors and capturing wanted people. Click here for more on Chapman’s show.

Dog gave Aaron a high five for being on the High Honor Roll.

When they made it to Saranac Lake, the Strathearns saw vehicles racing with lights and sirens, on the main road across the lake. While walking to Aaron’s cabin, they saw a helicopter fly overhead.

“When we got back to the car we learned that David Sweat had been captured,” Strathearn said.

Aaron went on to have a great week at camp, his mother said. At the DEC camp, he went canoing, fishing, birding, swimming and was able to try archery and build a shelter.

“He made a lot of friends,” his mother said.