CONTACT:
Sgt. Jim Juneau: 603-271-3361
Major Tim Acerno: 603-271-3128
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
February 23, 2009   

Missing Massachusetts Hiker Located in White Mountains

CONCORD, N.H. -- A hiker missing since Sunday evening (February 22, 2009) was found about 2 p.m. this afternoon and is being escorted off Mt. Whiteface by N.H. Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers.  Brian McLaughlin, age 40, of Lowell, Massachusetts, had left Lowell on Saturday afternoon for New Hampshire, intending to hike the Ferncroft /Blueberry Ledge trails in the White Mountain National Forest.  He had planned to camp one night on the trail and complete the loop in time to get home by Sunday evening.  Apparently he was overcome by difficult weather conditions; the area was hit by more than a foot of snow and high winds late Sunday.  

When McLaughlin failed to return home as expected Sunday evening, his wife reported him missing to N.H. State Police.  N.H. Fish and Game was notified about 11 p.m. McLaughlin's vehicle was located at 1 a.m. Monday, February 23, 2009, at the Ferncroft Trailhead, which is located in Wonalancet Village in Tamworth.  Early this morning, Fish and Game Conservation Officers began looking for McLaughlin in the vicinity of Mt. Passaconaway and Mt. Whiteface, searching Dicey's Mill Trail and the Blueberry Ledge Trail.

At 2 p.m. today, McLaughlin was located on the Blueberry Ledge Trail, about 2.7 miles from the trailhead.  He was able to walk out on his own, accompanied by two Conservation Officers, arriving at the trailhead at 3:42 p.m.

Fish and Game was assisted in the search effort by a N.H. Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, as well as the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, N.H. State Police Troop E and local police.

"We'll know more when we can interview him fully, but it appears that McLaughlin was overcome by severe weather conditions. He was hiking in an area that is not heavily used, so there were not other hikers around to help, and the snow-covered trails were not packed down," said Fish and Game Conservation Officer Sergeant Jim Juneau.

McLaughlin was equipped with snowshoes, a tent and overnight gear, and he had let someone back home know his plans. However, he did not follow two basic tenets of the hikeSafe code: McLaughlin was hiking alone, and he either failed to inquire about or didn't adequately account for the incoming snow conditions. 

The hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code (below) applies to all those enjoying New Hampshire's outdoors.  It says, you are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:

  • With knowledge and gear. Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

  • To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you'll return and your emergency plans.

  • To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.

  • To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.

  • For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don't assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

  • To share the hiker code with others.

For further information on being safe while hiking or hunting, visit www.hikesafe.com.

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