Two Winter Rescues in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

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On Sunday, February 26, 2012, Conservation Officers from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department responded to two separate incidents involving unprepared hikers on Mt. Lafayette in Franconia, NH.

During the first incident, four hikers from Lowell, MA were rescued after calling 911 and stating that they were unable to move due to the extreme cold and high winds near the summit of Mt. Lafayette. The rescued hikers included: Padraic Mahoney-Pierce (age 29), Brian Mahoney-Pierce (age 27), Sean Mahoney-Pierce (age 31) and Julie Sarago (age 26).

The hikers were found huddled together behind a rock in an effort to break the high winds and stay warm. No one in the hiking party had the appropriate winter hiking equipment, clothing, head lamps, or navigational aids (map, compass or GPS). They also did not have any prior winter mountaineering experience.

Simon Long of Hartford, CT and Brian Croce of Willimantic, CT, found the party and assisted them by providing hiking poles, cold weather gear, warm beverages and an emergency blanket. After the group had the opportunity to improve their core body temperatures, Simon and Brian assisted the group down the mountain to meet Conservation Officers. After safely arriving at the trailhead parking area, they were later treated at Speer Hospital in Plymouth for frostbite and hypothermia. The passerby hikers played a significant role in the party’s safe recovery. Without their assistance, the injuries sustained by the group could have been a lot more serious.

During the second incident, Song Gao, age 35, of Amherst, MA, became fatigued after being exposed to the high winds and frigid temperatures on the summit of Mt. Lafayette. While Gao did have some of the essential winter hiking gear, she was ill-equipped for the conditions and did not have prior winter mountaineering experience. Three passerby hikers from Montreal, Quebec assisted Gao down the Falling Waters Trail to safety. The passerby hikers include: Isabelle Murray, Ghyslain Murray and Eric Levesque.

It is important to note that while the Granite State has had a mild winter, it is never mild in the White Mountains and hikers need to be prepared for the conditions. For more information on hiking safety, contact or visit: