CONTACT:
Col. Jeffrey Gray: (603) 271-3128
Lt. Todd Bogardus: (603) 271-3361
February 2, 2007

Rescued Hiker's Family Shows Appreciation through Donations

CONCORD, N.H. -- The family of Brian Gagnon, the hiker who was rescued off Mt. Lafayette in Franconia, N.H., on January 22, 2007, has expressed its appreciation by making donations to the search and rescue community.

"Brian's family demonstrated their deep appreciation for the searchers' efforts through this donation," said Col. Jeffrey Gray, Chief of Law Enforcement for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

Gagnon's family donated a total of $3,000 to organizations that participated in the search effort. The N.H. Fish and Game Department received $1,000. Through the New Hampshire Outdoor Council, $500 was donated to each of the four volunteer search and rescue organizations involved in the effort to locate Gagnon -- the Mountain Rescue Service, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team and the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team.

A search was initiated for Brian Gagnon on January 20, 2007 and continued for two days until he was eventually located by search crews while holed up in his sleeping bag awaiting rescue, deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Gagnon had failed to return from a hike on Franconia Notch's Mt. Lafayette after he lost his way on the summit in conditions of dangerously high winds, poor visibility and subzero temperatures. Gagnon and his hiking companions had turned back to abandon their original itinerary, but Gagnon became separated from the others and lost his way in the adverse conditions on the summit. His companions made it safely to the trailhead, where they requested assistance for Gagnon. Gagnon did have a subzero-rated sleeping bag, which can be credited with saving his life until rescuers could find him.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has not yet completed its investigation and review into the possible reimbursement by Brian Gagnon for the rescue costs to the Department. This review is in line with the N.H. Statute that allows the department to seek reimbursement for situations where an individual recklessly or intentionally creates a situation requiring an emergency response (RSA 153-A:24).

In presenting the donation, Gagnon's mother, Susan Dow, stated that she and her family consider the wilderness rescuers to be their heroes, and gratefully thanked them for their professionalism and committed efforts to locate Brian.

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For more information about safe winter hiking and mountaineering in New Hampshire, click to visit www.hikeSafe.com. The site offers recommended gear lists and safety tips.

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