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July 02. 2012 10:10PM

Hiker who went off trail will be billed for rescue

An experienced New Hampshire man who spent the night in the White Mountain National Forest after unsuccessfully trying to bushwhack around a closed hiking trail will be billed for the time state conservation officers spent rescuing him Monday.

“By hiking on a closed trail, he will assume the cost of rescue efforts by taking on that risk of....disregarding signs saying the trail was closed,” New Hampshire Conservation Officer Brian Abrams said.

“He realized hiking down a closed trail was a mistake,” Sgt. Abrams added of Dover hiker David Carpio, 42.

Five conservation officers and two members of the U.S. Forest Service found Carpio about 1:50 p.m. in good condition in the Sargent's Purchase area and hiked him off the mountain, Abrams said.

Carpio, an experienced hiker, set out from Crawford Notch about 5:30 a.m. Sunday to the summit of 4,000-foot Isolation Mountain, Abrams said. One his descent, Abrams disregarded signs saying Rocky Branch Trail was closed due to flooding from Hurricane Irene, Abrams said. When Carpio discovered the trail was impassable, he tried to bushwhack around it through dense spruce forest and became disoriented, Abrams said.

At dusk, Carpio settled in for the night, then called 911 about 4 a.m. and asked for help, giving officials his GPS coordinates, Abrams said.

Rescuers set out from Bartlett about 8 a.m. They brought Carpio off the mountain at 3:20 p.m.

State law provides “any person determined by the (Fish and Game) department to have acted negligently in requiring a search and rescue response by the department shall be liable to the department for the reasonable cost.”

Abrams said the charge here would be the hourly wages of the five conservation officers involved in the rescue.

“He wasn't upset about being billed. He understands and, in the big picture, he appreciated everyone's efforts and everyone's help,” Abrams said of Carpio.

kmarchocki@unionleader.com


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