Stranded MA Hikers May Have To Repay Rescue Costs
Two Massachusetts hikers may now have to foot the bill for their own rescue. According to Mass Live, Nisrine Orgad of Weymouth, Massachusetts and Henry Santos of Peabody, Massachusetts were out hiking on the Greenleaf Trail in Franconia, NH when they lost their way.
Mass Live reports that the two hikers were not equipped for the hike having no light source, compass or map. As the trail started to get steeper and they lost daylight, they used an app on their phone to try to find their way out. They were able to see that they were about a mile from an Interstate so they decided to make it out that way, not taking into consideration how steep the terrain would become.
The hikers than used the cell phone to call for help, according to Mass Live. Conservation Officers from the NH Dept. of Fish & Game were sent out to rescue the hikers, which they did right before midnight.
After a successful rescue, you'd think the story was over. But not so fast. The NH Dept. of Fish & Game is now saying they shouldn't have to foot the bill because the hikers were not prepared. Mass Live is reporting that they are recommending the hikers reimburse the department for the costs associated with the rescue.
There are different fines in place for just these scenarios. According to an article from outdoors.org, NH Fish & Game have made an average of 189 rescues per year since 2008. These costs aren't cheap either, with each rescue mission costing between $500 to $3000.
NHFG Officials tell outdoors.org that covering these costs each year causes sacrifices in other needed areas such as equipment or training.
NH Fish & Game also offers a "Hike Safe" card which costs $25 per year which seems well worth the money:
"The card is valuable for anyone hiking, paddling, cross country skiing or engaging in other outdoor recreation. People who obtain the cards are not liable to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued. An individual may still be liable for response expenses if the actions that created the need for the emergency response meet criteria set forth by legislation (RSA 206:26-bb). "