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February 9, 2012

Midnight Search for Missing Franklin Hiker Ends; Man Safe at Mom's House

CONCORD, N.H. – A midnight search for missing Franklin, N.H., resident Mike Ward, age 43, ended hours later when rescuers learned that Ward had arrived safely at his mother's home in downtown Franklin about 3:30 a.m. this morning (Thursday, February 9, 2012). 

Ward and a friend, 59-year-old Larry Davis, also of Franklin, had set out mid-afternoon yesterday for a walk on a snowmobile trail that traverses N.H. State Forest Nursery lands. They became separated on the trail.  Davis, who was more familiar with the area, made it home around 7 p.m.  When his friend had not shown up by midnight, he alerted authorities.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers initiated a search for Ward, assisted by the Franklin Police and Franklin Fire Department personnel and a N.H. State Police canine unit.  Starting shortly after midnight, they backtracked along the men's trail, with some searchers on foot and Conservation Officers on four-wheeler All-Terrain Vehicles. 

Searchers had checked in with Ward's mother, also a Franklin resident, at midnight as the search began.  She had not heard from him at that time.  They checked in with her again about 4 a.m. and learned that Ward had arrived at her downtown Franklin residence at about 3:30 a.m.  Ward had lost his cell phone on the trail and had no survival equipment with him.  Alcohol appeared to have been a factor in the incident.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will review the facts and circumstances of the incident to determine whether it will seek reimbursement from Ward for the cost of the search.

No further information is available at this time.


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