New Hampshire Fish and Game officers say that a group of fatigued and dehydrated hikers who had to be rescued yesterday were woefully unprepared for hiking.
At approximately 7:20 p.m., on Wednesday, June 11, a 911 call was received for a hiker that was dehydrated and could not move on the Webster Cliff Trail. The caller reported that a 16-year-old male from Dracut, Massachusetts, was experiencing fatigue and dehydration, preventing them from continuing to hike. The coordinates given placed the caller just below the summit of Mount Jackson, 2.3 miles from US Route 302 in Beans Grant, New Hampshire.
A conservation officer received the call and spoke with 18-year-old Brendan Leddy of Clarkstown, Michigan. While speaking with Leddy it was also understood that a second victim, 18-year-old Casey Oelfke of Edgewater, Michigan, was experiencing a medical issue that did not allow her to continue either.
It was also relayed to the officer that of the group of three, no one had any hiking gear whatsoever. They had left from the area of the AMC Highland Center without bringing a backpack, extra clothing, food, flashlights, or headlamps. The only item that they brought on the hike other than the clothes on their back and cell phones was one half-full water bottle of a sports drink. Due to the information from Leddy, officers initiated a rescue effort.
While officers responded, it was relayed that passing hikers had given them some warm clothing, fluids and food while attempting to assist Leddy’s group down the trail. Officers met the group of three along with the assisting hikers on the trail at 9:55 p.m. All three in the group were up and moving and medical treatment was declined when officers asked about the medical issue. Leddy’s group was given more fluids and food, and brought back to their vehicle.
When speaking with the group about what went wrong, all three in the group stated that they overestimated their hiking abilities and underestimated the trail difficulty. It was also discussed that they went on a hike with only one thing from the Ten Essentials Hiking List. One of the people in the group had the half-full bottle of sports drink. Of the group, only one had ever hiked before.
With all of the circumstances, poor planning and decisions made by Leddy and his group it is Fish and Games intention to bill the group for the cost of the rescue.
All parties involved left the trailhead at approximately 11 p.m.