HANOVER — New Hampshire Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan said Dartmouth College staff made at least three critical errors that could have cost lives during the May hike in which a student was lost in the White Mountains.
“There were three significant errors that the college is committed to not making again,” Jordan said.
Dartmouth College recently paid Fish and Game $18,700 to cover the costs of the search and rescue operation from May 11 through May 13, Jordan said. He called the school’s answer to the incident very responsive and cooperative.
Timothy Burdick, the director of Dartmouth’s Outdoor Programming Office, stepped down last week after a college investigation found issues with the hike and the program. Jordan called the three errors potentially fatal.
The first big mistake, Jordan said, was not preparing the students for the hike at Mt. Moosilauke. Student Arun Anand, 21, of Pennsylvania, was wearing shorts and sneakers to the hike in the White Mountains, where the snow was still deep, Jordan said. When Anand started suffering from a knee injury, he was told by the college leaders to turn around and head back to the base camp by himself. That was the second potentially fatal error, Jordan said.
“I spend almost half my time looking for hikers out by themselves,” Jordan said.
The third mistake was not calling in the state sooner, Jordan said. Anand went missing sometime midday, and according to his cell phone records, it was clear within about an hour he was in trouble. Jordan said the college did not call Fish and Game until around 8 p.m.
“That cost us a day,” Jordan said.
Anand was found on May 13, injured and shoeless, about a mile from the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. The effort to find Anand included Fish and Game, law enforcement, and volunteers and helicopter support from the New Hampshire National Guard.
“We remain deeply grateful for everything they did to bring our student home safely,” said Diana Lawrence, associate vice president for communications at Dartmouth.
Jordan said there’s still the potential for another $40,000 bill for the school for the helicopter support. He’s working to try and get a waiver for the college, but Dartmouth would have to pay that bill if the Guard declines the request, Jordan said.