CONCORD, NH – A hiker from Massachusetts suffering from hypothermia was rescued Tuesday by NH Conservation officers, after they received an electronic SOS alert.
On December 22, 2015 at 1:35 p.m. NH Conservation Officers were alerted by the International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center that a hiker had pressed the SOS button on his SPOT locator beacon. Coordinates given placed the hiker along Franconia Brook in the town of Lincoln. The Spot device was registered to Christopher Wright, 54, of Mattapoisett, Mass. A family member confirmed that Wright had planned a two-day hike into the Pemi Wilderness in an effort to climb Owl’s Head Mountain. Wright was well prepared with equipment and overnight gear, according to family.
Two Conservation Officers on ATVs set out from the Lincoln Woods Parking Lot. The two Conservation Officers were able to take ATVs as far as Franconia Brook and then hiked approximately one mile along the brook to the coordinates given by the Rescue Coordination Center. At 4:15 p.m. Wright was located in his tent on the bank of Franconia Brook. He was suffering from hypothermia and had become disoriented after bushwhacking from the Lincoln Brook Trail when he was unable to make a safe brook crossing due to rising waters. Conservation Officers were able to warm Wright and then hike him to the ATVs. The group arrived back at Lincoln Woods shortly after 6 p.m.
Wright indicated that although he had appropriate gear for the conditions, he was unable to stay dry through the persistent rain that fell throughout the day. With temperatures in the mid-30s Wright was unable to control his body temperature. He decided to attempt to rewarm himself by setting up his tent, getting into his sleeping bag and then alerted rescuers through his SPOT device.
Wright did not have a Hike Safe Card. According to NH Fish & Game Department, a state law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015 authorizes the sale of the voluntary hike safe card for $25 per person and $35 per family. People who obtain the cards will not be liable to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued due to negligence on their part, regardless of whether they are hiking, boating, cross country skiing, hunting, or engaging in any other outdoor activity. An individual may still be liable for response expenses, however, if such person is deemed to have recklessly or to have intentionally created a situation requiring an emergency response.
People who possess a current New Hampshire Fish and Game hunting or fishing license, or a current registration for an off-highway recreational vehicle, snowmobile or boat, will also be exempt from repaying rescue costs due to negligence.