CONTACT:
Lt. Jim Goss: (603) 271-3361
CO Jim Juneau: (603) 271-3361
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
July 30, 2008       

Two Hiker Rescues in White Mountains End Successfully
Reminder from Rescuers: Cell Phones Are Not Safety Gear

CONCORD, N.H. -- In two separate incidents yesterday (July 29, 2008), rescuers came successfully to the aid of visiting hikers lost in the White Mountains.  In both instances, the hikers were fortunate to be in areas in which their cell phones worked to call for help.

At 2:15 p.m., the Carroll County Sheriff's office relayed information to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department about a distress call from a family of four from Florida, vacationing in New Hampshire, whose 12-year-old son was lost on Mt. Chocorua in Albany, N.H. 

The family had reached the Chocorua summit and headed back down the Piper Trail.  The boy got ahead of his parents on the trail and took a wrong turn at a trail junction, ending up on the Champney Falls Trail.  Using their cell phone, his parents called 911 for help. 

N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officers and U.S. Forest Service personnel responded, heading up the Piper Trail and deploying to other Chocorua trailheads. Word of the missing boy -- and the parents' cell phone number -- circulated among the many hikers on the mountain, and one reported a possible sighting.  Following up on the tip, two U.S. Forest Service personnel encountered the boy on the Champney Falls Trail and brought him down. By 5 p.m., the boy was reunited with his parents at the Piper Trailhead.

"This incident emphasizes what the hikeSafe responsibility code says:  Start as a group, finish as a group. Stay together throughout the duration of the hike," said Fish and Game Conservation Officer Jim Juneau. 

In another incident on the same day, a family from Toronto, Canada, who were vacationing in the White Mountains, had to be rescued after becoming lost after dark on North Doublehead Mountain in Jackson, N.H.  Reiner Harper, age 40, his wife Susan and their five children, aged 6 to 17, had planned to hike to the North Doublehead Mountain Shelter.  They were unable to find the shelter and turned back, but on the way down they got off the trail. 

In the dark and completely out of their familiar urban environment, the family called for help using a cell phone.  N.H. Fish and Game was called at 9 p.m., and Fish and Game Conservation Officer Brian Abrams and CO Trainee Alex Lopashanski responded.  The officers were able to find the family by using whistles and keeping in cell phone contact. The family was located at approximately 10:30 p.m., and officers walked them out.  They expressed their thanks to Fish and Game for the rescue.

"We're happy that these incidents had fortunate outcomes, but we can't emphasize enough that cell phones are not safety gear. They don't always work in the mountains," said Todd Bogardus, Fish and Game's Search and Rescue Team Leader and hikeSafe education coordinator. "When venturing into remote areas, people should always be prepared with the proper footwear, clothing and gear to survive if they need to."

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For information on safe hiking, including more safety tips and a gear list, visit www.hikeSafe.com.

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