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Charged for Being Too Old (and Ill-Equipped) to Hike

Charged for Being Too Old (and Ill-Equipped) to Hike
Meg Butler

There are plenty of hikers on FlyerTalk. In the forums, FlyerTalkers have shared stories of hiking Mt. Fuji, a planespotting hike in Hong Kong, and even the best Hyatts for hiking. But I’d never heard any stories about getting lost and then being charged and perhaps arrested for a rescue mission.

That is until the Union Leader revealed a new one on me with the story of James Clark, an 80-year-old hiker who was left on Lion Head Trail in Sargeant’s Purchase by his teenage grandsons.

According to the Union Leader, rescue team found Clark at around 1:15 a.m., shivering, wet, and showing signs of hypothermia “to the point of not being able to speak any clear or discernible words.” Rescuers carried Clark for two miles to the nearest road before he was taken away by ambulance to a hospital for non life-threatening reasons.

New Hampshire officials say that they’re considering charging Clark and his family for the cost of the hourslong rescue mission (the exact cost has yet to be revealed) because Clark did not have the proper gear for hiking in the dangerously cold weather (below freezing with a wind chill of 12 degrees Fahrenheit).

Officials are also considering charging Clark’s grandsons, aged 14 and 19 for leaving their grandfather behind to hike ahead at their own pace. The two wound up taking a different trail back down Mount Washington after reaching the summit so they didn’t pass their grandfather on the way down.

The boys then called rescue personnel around 7:45 p.m. (it’s not clear what time they set out) and told them that their grandfather was still on Mount Washington and had no overnight gear, no cellphone and no light.


“If anybody’s at fault, it’s definitely me and not those boys,” Clark said. “I’m the one who has insisted that they go ahead. So any negligence was on my part.”

However, Fish and Game Major Dave Walsh says that the teen boys “should have been better prepared in terms of equipment and clothing and never should have left him alone. I don’t know his physical shape, but he’s 80 years old.”



[Image: Good Free Photos]

View Comments (5)


  1. fassy

    June 27, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Well, getting charged for Search & Rescue or even the ambulance after an accident is quite standard in most European countries. And there are insurances to cover for these kind of charges.

  2. FlyingNone

    June 27, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    Charge the grandson’s parents. 14 and 19 ??? Even an eight-year-old would never leave their grandparent if there was any familial caring. What is wrong with people ?????

  3. Occupationalhazard

    June 28, 2019 at 1:36 am

    So not properly dressed for the weather, no mobile phone, no light, the kids go ahead *AND* come down a different trail? Both the grandfather AND the 19 year old, and probably the 14 year old should have known better.

  4. mvoight

    June 28, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    If the grandfather is sane, why would the teens be charged?

  5. Dublin_rfk

    July 5, 2019 at 9:06 am

    With Fish and Game involved I’m surprised they weren’t all arrested and fined!

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