US: An 80-year-old man was left behind on a hiking trail. Now family members could be charged for the cost of the search and rescue mission. - PressFrom - US
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USAn 80-year-old man was left behind on a hiking trail. Now family members could be charged for the cost of the search and rescue mission.

22:20  17 june  2019
22:20  17 june  2019 Source:   msn.com

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An 80-year-old man was left behind on a hiking trail. Now family members could be charged for the cost of the search and rescue mission.© Holly Ramer/AP Photo

On Thursday, James Clark, 80, was hiking with two family members in Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire. But early into the hike, two members of the party left Clark behind and continued to summit Lion Head Trail without him, breaking hiker protocol, according to a press release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The pair went down a different way, so they didn't cross paths with Clark again. Around 7:45 pm, they called rescue personnel, alerting them that Clark was still on the trail without proper overnight gear - including a cellphone or a flashlight.

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That night, temperatures on the mountain were below freezing , and there were 60 mph winds and rain.

By the time Clark was found at 1:15 a.m., he was exhibiting signs of hypothermia. The man was in the fetal position and unable to "speak any clear or discernible words," per the press release. He had to be carried by rescue personnel for 1.7 miles to a nearby road.

At 5:00 a.m., the group arrived at Auto Road where an ambulance was waiting to transport Clark to Androscoggin Valley Hospital. He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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"It looks like he's going to be OK," Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan told the Union Leader.

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Now, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials might fine Clark's family for the cost of the hours-long mission.

"We will be looking at charges for the billing of the search and rescue," Fish and Game Major Dave Walsh told the Union Leader.

Walsh said the family members broke hiking protocol twice: first when they left Clark alone and then again didn't go back to check on him.

He said they will be asking the attorney general about "negligent hiking" and possible criminal charges.

"They should have been better prepared in terms of equipment and clothing and never should have left him alone," he said. "I don't know his physical shape, but he's 80 years old."

This incident came amid the deaths of two other hikers in New Hampshire last week. 63-year-old Sandra Lee died of an unknown medical condition while hiking on Thursday. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. William Whittenaur, 69, died Friday after experiencing a heart attack on a trail leading to Mt. Cabot.

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