3 college students rescued from mountain; 1 had hypothermia

WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. (AP/WPRI) — Three University of Massachusetts-Amherst students hiking a New Hampshire mountain have been rescued after one started suffering from hypothermia with temperatures in the teens and strong winds.

State Fish and Game officers received a 911 call at about 6 p.m. Tuesday that the hikers were at Mount Wonalancet in the Sandwich Range Wilderness Area.

One of them, 20-year-old Matthew Johnson of Sandwich, Massachusetts, was unable to continue; his companions put him in a sleeping bag and tent and called for assistance.

Four officers and 11 volunteers hiked the 3.5 miles through rugged terrain and deep snowpack, reaching the hikers at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. They were eventually able to hike out to the trailhead. The rescue concluded at about 5 a.m. and no injuries were reported.

“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.

The hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code (as seen on the Fish & Game’s website) 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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