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April 17. 2014 3:21PM

UPDATE: Search suspended for Northfield man a second day


Divers search the Smith River just below Profile Falls on Tuesday. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

BRISTOL – The search for a 32-year-old Northfield man who is presumed drowned after jumping into the raging waters in a "Polar Plunge" of the Smith River Monday night was called off today, as the Smith River below Profile Falls had risen by as much as 10 feet overnight.

Instead, Army National Guard helicopters will be flying over the river today, combing the swelling river from above, according to Lt. James Kneeland.

"It's too high for us to consider going back there today, so we have pulled out," Kneeland said. "We'll play it day by day, hopefully we can get back in there by this weekend."

Teams are searching for Michael Hoyt of Northfield, in what Kneeland said is now a recovery operation, as Hoyt is "presumed drowned," he said.

Two friends who were with Hoyt have not seen him since he jumped in the water just before 8 p.m. Monday, he said. The two swimmers called for help after he failed to surface.

The two friends were upset Tuesday, Kneeland said, that media reports indicated they had dared Hoyt to jump in. The reports came from statements made by rescue crews Monday night and Tuesday morning.

"I don't doubt that they were participating in a Polar Plunge, they were talking about it afterward and said they had seen it on the Internet," Kneeland said.

"We just don't have any specific evidence that anyone dared him to go in. They indicated they wanted to participate in a Polar Plunge, but we don't have evidence of a specific dare," he said.

The bridge at the falls where the search teams headquartered Monday night and Tuesday was underwater this morning, Kneeland said, and the waters were expected to continue rising.

Kneeland said Fish and Game and Marine Patrol search teams hoped to return to the scene by the weekend. When they next search, they will likely have "cadaver dogs:" dogs trained in finding bodies, he said. - See more at: http://uledit.sx.atl.publicus.com/article/20140416/NEWS07/140419438#sthash.7yZfVR71.dpuf
BRISTOL – The search for a 32-year-old Northfield man who is presumed drowned after jumping into the raging waters in a "Polar Plunge" of the Smith River Monday night was called off today, as the Smith River below Profile Falls had risen by as much as 10 feet overnight.

Instead, Army National Guard helicopters will be flying over the river today, combing the swelling river from above, according to Lt. James Kneeland.

"It's too high for us to consider going back there today, so we have pulled out," Kneeland said. "We'll play it day by day, hopefully we can get back in there by this weekend."

Teams are searching for Michael Hoyt of Northfield, in what Kneeland said is now a recovery operation, as Hoyt is "presumed drowned," he said.

Two friends who were with Hoyt have not seen him since he jumped in the water just before 8 p.m. Monday, he said. The two swimmers called for help after he failed to surface.

The two friends were upset Tuesday, Kneeland said, that media reports indicated they had dared Hoyt to jump in. The reports came from statements made by rescue crews Monday night and Tuesday morning.

"I don't doubt that they were participating in a Polar Plunge, they were talking about it afterward and said they had seen it on the Internet," Kneeland said.

"We just don't have any specific evidence that anyone dared him to go in. They indicated they wanted to participate in a Polar Plunge, but we don't have evidence of a specific dare," he said.

The bridge at the falls where the search teams headquartered Monday night and Tuesday was underwater this morning, Kneeland said, and the waters were expected to continue rising.

Kneeland said Fish and Game and Marine Patrol search teams hoped to return to the scene by the weekend. When they next search, they will likely have "cadaver dogs:" dogs trained in finding bodies, he said. - See more at: http://uledit.sx.atl.publicus.com/article/20140416/NEWS07/140419438#sthash.7yZfVR71.dpuf
BRISTOL – The search for a 32-year-old Northfield man who is presumed drowned in the Smith River below Profile Falls was not able to continue for a second straight day Thursday.

Fish and Game diving teams searched Tuesday for Aaron Hoyt of Northfield, in what was described by Fish and Game officials describe as "a recovery operation."


Hoyt was last seen floating in the Smith River below the falls at about 7:30 p.m. Monday, officials said. He has not been seen since.


The Smith River is swelling because of recent rainfall and snowmelt, and it is very dangerous, authorities said. On Wednesday, the river rose by 10 feet or more, said Fish and Game Lt. James Kneeland, and the water was still too high on Thursday to safely dive.


Fish and Game officials said Thursday they weren't sure if they would be able to resume the search for Hoyt on Friday because of the river's depth.





Previous story follows:





BRISTOL – The search for a 32-year-old Northfield man who is presumed drowned after jumping into the raging waters in a "Polar Plunge" of the Smith River Monday night was called off today, as the Smith River below Profile Falls had risen by as much as 10 feet overnight.

Instead, Army National Guard helicopters will be flying over the river today, combing the swelling river from above, according to Lt. James Kneeland.

"It's too high for us to consider going back there today, so we have pulled out," Kneeland said. "We'll play it day by day, hopefully we can get back in there by this weekend."

Teams are searching for Aaron Hoyt of Northfield, in what Kneeland said is now a recovery operation, as Hoyt is "presumed drowned," he said.

Two friends who were with Hoyt have not seen him since he jumped in the water just before 8 p.m. Monday, he said. The two swimmers called for help after he failed to surface.

The two friends were upset Tuesday, Kneeland said, that media reports indicated they had dared Hoyt to jump in. The reports came from statements made by rescue crews Monday night and Tuesday morning.

"I don't doubt that they were participating in a Polar Plunge, they were talking about it afterward and said they had seen it on the Internet," Kneeland said.

"We just don't have any specific evidence that anyone dared him to go in. They indicated they wanted to participate in a Polar Plunge, but we don't have evidence of a specific dare," he said.

The bridge at the falls where the search teams headquartered Monday night and Tuesday was underwater this morning, Kneeland said, and the waters were expected to continue rising.

Kneeland said Fish and Game and Marine Patrol search teams hoped to return to the scene by the weekend. When they next search, they will likely have "cadaver dogs:" dogs trained in finding bodies, he said.

Previous story follows:
BRISTOL – A 32-year-old Northfield man was "presumed drowned" in the raging waters of the Smith River after taking a dare from two friends Monday night in what state officials said was a dangerous "Polar Plunge" activity at Profile Falls.

Michael Hoyt of Northfield confirmed Tuesday that his son, Aaron Hoyt, is the person who was lost in the waters Monday night. Michael Hoyt said police met with him Tuesday morning. He would not comment further.

Law enforcement authorities confirmed last night that Aaron Hoyt is the victim.

State Fish and Game and Marine Patrol divers and boat crews were searching a 2-mile stretch of the river near the 30-foot Profile Falls, a popular swimming area in summer months.

But Fish and Game Lt. James Kneeland said Hoyt will not likely be found alive.

"This is a recovery operation at this point," Kneeland said. "It's a presumed drowning."

The two friends who were with Hoyt have not seen him since he jumped in the water just before 8 p.m., he said. The two swimmers called for help after he failed to surface.

The rivers and streams in the state are running dangerously high because of the snow melt and recent rains. Tuesday, the rain fell heavily at times on the rescue crews.

Fish and Game officials issued a press release Monday warning of the dangers of participating in a Polar Plunge, a fad "being fanned on social media sites."

According to Fish and Game officials, a Polar Plunge requires participants to jump into freezing water wearing only summer swimwear and without life vests. Once in the water, they also have to dare five others to take the plunge.

The fact that someone apparently died from a Polar Plunge just hours after the press release warning of its dangers was issued caused frustration among the search teams.

"What a waste," said Marine Patrol Sgt. Dave Ouellette, who helped develop the press release. "Even a strong swimmer, even our divers, have a minimum chance of survival right now because the rivers are so dangerous. People need to think twice before participating in a fad like this."

The rapids below the falls are now at 15- to 20-foot levels, and the water is flowing fast. When divers conducted their searches Tuesday, once in the water, they were jerked into the main river flow and pushed downstream without much control over their direction or speed.
The water temperature was in the 40-degree range.

"It's definitely not conducive to swimming," Kneeland said.

The cold, swift water made searching very difficult. "All we can do is snorkel and dive and hope we get lucky," he said.

The search was stopped at about 4:15 p.m. Kneeland said he's not sure if the weather and river conditions will allow the search to continue on Wednesday. Rain was expected to bring the river up several feet Tuesday night, he said.

dseufert@newstote.com


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