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Lt. James Kneeland: 603-271-3361
Lt. Heidi Murphy: 603-271-3127
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
April 16, 2014

Update for April 18, 2014: Col. Martin Garabedian of Fish and Game confirmed today that the search for Aaron Hoyt remains suspended until high water conditions become safer for searchers. Further updates will be posted on this page.

Bristol River Search on Hold Due to High Water

CONCORD, N.H. – The search for Aaron Hoyt, age 32, of Northfield, who is presumed drowned in the Smith River in Bristol, N.H., following a leap into its icy waters on Monday evening (April 14, 2014), is on hold because of rising waters, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials said today .

On Monday evening the search for Hoyt began, coordinated by N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officers, with assistance from the Bristol Fire and Police and New Hampton Fire departments. On Tuesday, the recovery effort continued by boat, with Fish and Game, Bristol Police and Marine Patrol officers participating. Because of quickly rising waters, today's (Wednesday, April 16) search was limited to aerial surveys by an Army National Guard helicopter flying over the river. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing water level data, such as flow and water height.

"The river has risen 9 feet from yesterday to this morning, and is projected to rise another 14 feet before Thursday morning," said N.H. Fish and Game Lt. James Kneeland. "We will have to take it day by day until workable, safe conditions allow us to get back on the river."

Hoyt is presumed drowned after being observed by two witnesses jumping into the Smith River off a 12 foot high ledge outcropping near Profile Falls approximately 7:30 on Monday evening. He was attired in swim trunks, without a life vest. He was swept downriver and last seen with his head above water, trying to make his way toward shore.

While there is no specific evidence linking Hoyt's actions to a dare challenge related to the Polar Plunge Facebook fad, "We believe Hoyt was aware of the Polar Plunge trend, and his likely death from this incident is a tragic reminder of just how dangerous actions such as those promoted by that trend can be," said Kneeland.

"Anyone considering going near any body of water this time of year should take standard precautions such as wearing a life jacket," Kneeland continued. "We are urging the public to use caution around all waterbodies until warmer temperatures – both air and water – arrive, and water levels return to normal. Please give the spring runoff a chance to occur before planning your water activities."

No further information is available at this time. Updates will be posted on this page as they become available.

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