Lost hikers may be charged


MOUNT JEFFERSON, N.H. (AP) – Fish and Game officials are looking into recommending charges against a Pennsylvania man and his teen daughter after they got stranded overnight on Mount Jefferson with no lights, maps or compass.

The hikers called 911 for help from the summit, prompting a nearly six-hour search in the dark.

“Everything here points toward negligence,” said Conservation Officer Mark Ober.

“They called basically to have someone come get them.”

Ober said the call came in around 8:30 p.m. and searchers found Bruce Fields, 53, and daughter Abby Fields, 15, of Harrisburg, Pa., around 2:15 a.m.

They were fine, but wondered about being charged under the state’s reckless hiker’s law.

“That’s one thing he asked when we got there,” Ober said. “We let them know it is a possibility.”

The law, enacted in 1999, is used mainly against unequipped hikers who have to be rescued after ignoring warnings or who head out without proper preparation.

“They were very unprepared,” Ober said.

The law provides for fines.

The dad and daughter were not wearing hiking gear and the daughter was wearing shorts when they set out around 3 p.m. to hike to the top of a 5,000 footer, where it was about 50 degrees at the summit, Ober said.

He said the hikers had a GPS device, but didn’t know how to use it. They were able to relay their coordinates to a dispatcher.

Three teams of searchers from Fish and Game, the Appalachian Mountain Club and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue looked for the pair.