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May 13, 2009        

Drowning Victim Recovered; Lost Maine Hikers Are Found Safe

CONCORD, N.H. - Searchers recovered the body of 67-year-old drowning victim Richard Robinson Sr. of Stratford today (Wednesday, May 13, 2009) at about 12:50 p.m.  Robinson was found approximately 5 miles downstream from where he was last seen on the bank of the Connecticut River at about 11:00 a.m. Tuesday (May 12).  Two New Hampshire Fish and Game Conservation Officers aboard the Department's airboat found the body along the shoreline of an island in the river.  Robinson's family has been notified. 

The State Medical Examiner viewed the body at the scene and at his discretion may request an autopsy. The incident appears to be nonsuspicious in nature, according to N.H. Fish and Game Lt. Douglas Gralenski. 

A large-scale search for Robinson had been underway since Tuesday afternoon, with searchers combing the river and its banks for signs of Robinson. The effort involved personnel from N.H. Fish and Game, Vermont Fish and Game, N.H. State Police, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Stratford Hollow Fire Department, Stratford Police, the Red Cross and New England K-9 Search and Rescue.

Gralenski reported that the northern stretches of the Connecticut River where the incident occurred are currently running at typical spring levels, a little high due to recent thunderstorms, but not at flood stage.  He credited the hydroelectric company TransCanada for lowering the river flow during the search to aid the recovery effort. 

In the White Mountains, the search for two Maine hikers successfully concluded this afternoon (Wednesday, May 13) as the two young women were walked to safety by rescuers.  The hikers were located just before noon on the Baldface Circle Trail near Eagle Crag.

Hannah Groom, age 21, of Cumberland, Maine, and Shannon Episcopo, age 21, of Portland, Maine, had left Portland, at 11:30 a.m. yesterday (May 12), heading to New Hampshire's White Mountains for a day hike.  They set out on the Baldface Circle Trail at about 2 p.m. 

The young women had told their parents only that they were going hiking in the White Mountains and were expecting to return home in time for a volleyball game yesterday evening.  Late last night when they had not returned, Groom's parents began investigating and discovered information on her computer indicating research on the Baldface Mountain area. Very early this morning, Groom's father, Rob Groom, and her brother went to the White Mountains to look for the women.  At about 5:30 this morning, they found the young hikers' car at the Baldface Trailhead on Route 113 in North Chatham.  New Hampshire Fish and Game was notified about 6:30 a.m. today (May 13, 2009) by N.H. State Police and a search commenced. 

Search teams focused on the Baldface Circle Trail,  a rugged 10-mile loop in the White Mountain National Forest.  Apparently, the women had missed an intersection and ended up on the Wild River Trail.  They had no trail map or overnight gear, but they encountered another hiker who helped them find shelter for the night at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Spruce Brook Campsite. They were carrying cell phones, but no signal is available in that area. This morning, the two women, accompanied by hiker Drew Inzer of North Bridgton, Maine, began hiking out together and were met by searchers on the Baldface Circle Trail a few miles from the trailhead.  The women are in good condition. 

"We're just thankful that the young women are safely out of this remote wilderness area.  It's such big country; it's very difficult to search," said N.H. Fish and Game Lt. James Goss.  "They were fortunate to meet an experienced and prepared hiker who was able to assist them out." 

N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officers were assisted in the search by U.S. Forest Service personnel.  The Appalachian Mountain Club provided its Cold River Campsite as a command center.  A U.S. Army Air National Guard helicopter had been requested and was moments from taking off when news that the women had been located came in. 

"We've had a lot of rescue activity in recent days.  The weather is nice, and people want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, but they need to be prepared when they go," said Goss.  "If you're heading for the mountains, keep in mind that winter conditions still prevail in some areas.  Please be responsible and take time to review the hikeSafe code before you head out for a wilderness adventure." 

 No further information about these incidents is available at this time.

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

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