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faegilr
07-17-2009, 09:10 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_hiker_fined

Teen fined $25,000 for cost of NH mountain rescue
AP

FILE - In this file photo taken April 28, 2009, Scott Mason grimaces as he gets AP ? FILE - In this file photo taken April 28, 2009, Scott Mason grimaces as he gets ready to go to the hospital ?
By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press Writer Holly Ramer, Associated Press Writer ? Fri Jul 17, 5:27 pm ET

CONCORD, N.H. ? A Massachusetts teenager who spent three nights alone on Mount Washington in April after he sprained an ankle and veered off marked trails has been fined more than $25,000 for the cost of his rescue.

Scott Mason had been praised for utilizing his Eagle Scout skills ? sleeping in the crevice of a boulder and jump-starting fires with hand sanitzer gel. But authorities say he wasn't prepared for the conditions he encountered and shouldn't have set out on such an ambitious hike.

"Yes, he'd been out there in July when you could step across the brooks. And people have been out there in winter in hard-packed snow. But with these spring conditions, it was soft snow, it was deep snow," said Fish and Game Maj. Tim Acerno.

Acerno said he believes Mason's fine is the largest ever sought under a 9-year-old New Hampshire law that allows lost hikers and climbers to be charged for rescue costs. Mason's rescue was particularly expensive because the helicopters the state typically used were unavailable, and a helicopter from Maine had to be brought in, Acerno said.

Mason, 17, of Halifax, Mass., had planned to spend one day hiking 17 miles in the New Hampshire mountains but ended up lost after he hurt his ankle and decided to take a shortcut. The shortcut led him into rising water and deep snow caused by unseasonably warm weather.

Mason was negligent in continuing up the mountain with an injury and veering off the marked path, Acerno said. Negligence, he said, is based on judging what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.

"When I twist my ankle, I turn around and come down. He kept going up," Acerno said.

"It was his negligence that led to him getting into that predicament," he said. "Once he was in that predicament, yes, that's what we praise him for ? he used his Boy Scout skills, and that's why he's still alive."

Several states, including neighboring Maine and Vermont, have rescue repayment laws similiar to New Hampshire, though others tend to be more lenient. In Washington state, a bill that would have created a reimbursement system with fines capped at $500 never even made it out of committee this year. In New Hampshire, however, lawmakers made it even easier to charge for rescues last year when they changed the law to allow fines for those who acted negligently instead of the harder to prove standard of recklessness.

New Hampshire officials have estimated that they could seek reimbursement in about 40 of the 140 or so rescues it typically handles each year. The money goes to the Fish and Game department's rescue fund. In most cases, hikers pay a few hundred dollars.

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, there were 131 missions that cost $175,320, Acerno said. He did not know how many of them resulted in fines.

Mason's family said they would not comment on the bill, which was mailed July 10. Mason has until August 9 to pay the bill; he could also take the state to court to contest the fine.

mtruman
07-17-2009, 10:39 PM
OK, I've said before that some of the unprepared fools (trying not to use a stronger expletive here) deserve to be fined after putting SAR and others in jeopardy and causing costly rescues. Somehow this doesn't seem like the right case though. Maybe we're not seeing the whole story somehow but this kid seems like he was quite prepared and just was the victim of unfortunate circumstances.

bclark
07-17-2009, 11:17 PM
Before I offer my two cents, I feel like I need to make sure everyone knows I am stating my personal opinion and not that of the Observatory's in any way.

With that said, I think that it is very appropriate of the state to charge for this young man's rescue. I was on the mountain during the search and witnessed fairly closely all the man power that went into it. I definitely agree that he was not prepared....for the hike that he set out on that is. He may have been prepared for a shorter day hike during the summer months, but he was not properly equipped for an ambitious 17 mile hike during a time of year that can see full winter conditions in these mountains. In my opinion ti doesn't matter that the weather at that time was more typical of June than April...you have to be prepared for anything in these mountains, as a lot of people on this forum already know. I also think that he made some other poor decisions along the way.

I just wish they would use this law more often, especially for the people that are even more obviously negligent than this young man.

So that' my opinion....I'll be interested to hear what others think. I was surprised to see that he (and/or his family) only has until August 9 to pay the bill. That's not much time to pay a sum of money that most people just don't have laying around.

M_Six
07-18-2009, 12:06 AM
I'm of two minds about this. As a former Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, I never felt anyone owed a lifeguard anything but thanks for rescuing them. But when I see people who refuse to evacuate before a hurricane or flood and then require serious rescue, I tend to lean towards charging them for the service if for no other reason than to discourage future poor judgments.

Still, a $25,000 fine seems a tad excessive. I have no knowledge of this teen's family's financial status, but a $25k fine can be devastating. Charging people for negligence is one thing. Charging them for stupidity is another. It's a fine line, indeed, though.

h2oeco
07-18-2009, 08:04 AM
I agree that a fine is due, and though $25,000 sounds high, I know that it costs several thousand dollars per hour to operate a rescue-type helicopter - i.e. Blackhawk, etc - so it is relatively easy to see how they arrived at that number. Interestingly, the Coast Guard performs similar rescues over water routinely, and does not charge, even in cases of stupidity/negligence. To my knowledge, they only charge/fine in the case of hoax distress calls - in these situations, I have read of fines/costs in the $250,000+ range, and criminal charges.

As Brian alluded to, it seems like this hiker made some bad decisions, and if he had turned back sooner, the whole rescue effort probably could have been avoided.

Ed

Charlie
07-18-2009, 08:11 AM
I'm of two minds about this. As a former Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, I never felt anyone owed a lifeguard anything but thanks for rescuing them. But when I see people who refuse to evacuate before a hurricane or flood and then require serious rescue, I tend to lean towards charging them for the service if for no other reason than to discourage future poor judgments.

Still, a $25,000 fine seems a tad excessive. I have no knowledge of this teen's family's financial status, but a $25k fine can be devastating. Charging people for negligence is one thing. Charging them for stupidity is another. It's a fine line, indeed, though.

i agree with you .i am with a search & rescue team and we have no money coming in ,we support our self's . but there are times when you get that call out for some one that makes you shake your head [ why are we here ] one was with 2 kids boyfriend and girlfriend did not come back from a walk near there house . 1 state helicopter,search team ,ems,police , dog teams and fire dept looking for 8 hr and they came walking out and said Whats going on :eek:
we thought they were on the move because our dogs were on the move going round and round
the parents were mad ,they made them go on the news to apologize and we got a $25 donation

they should have had to do some community time for all the man hours they took up

Slojourner
07-18-2009, 08:37 AM
As a dad who's lost a child in an accident, $25,000 is a small price to pay to be able to wrap your arms around your son or daughter again. We're not talking about winning or losing some sporting event here. Obviously this kid was in way over his head. They wouldn't have to wait until August 1 for me to get the $$$ to them. I'd figure it out somehow.

TrishandAlex
07-18-2009, 10:48 AM
Perhaps the parents can hire a lawyer to dispute this extremely excessive and, IMHO, unnecessary (in this case) fine.

JimS
07-18-2009, 12:28 PM
Perhaps the parents can hire a lawyer to dispute this extremely excessive and, IMHO, unnecessary (in this case) fine.

I think it bears mentioning first that this is a recovery of costs and not a fine. While some may say that it is just semantics, I think the distinction is important. And I can certainly see the F&G's side, in that they are largely on their own without tax support, and this event was a huge hit for them. But (granted I don't know all the facts) I don't see how this was reckless...

One of the big phrases that circulated with this reckless hiker statute is that the hiker's actions must be against what a reasonable person would do in the same situation. I really hope that the state puts out a report on what was deemed reckless in this case. From what I recollect, he had crampons, proper gear, and survived additional nights on his own. Sounds like he was prepared.

The morning the boy got lost, I was on the Boott Spur trail at 2AM to catch a sunrise. Is this what a reasonable person would do? Probably not. Was I being reckless? I don't believe so, I felt comfortable, had proper gear, had hiked the trail a few times before, and had done many prior night hikes. But what I consider within my comforts may seem unreasonable to others. If I was injured, would I have been "fined"?

I think that this idea/law needs better definition, because it sounds like many of us who enjoy these mountains might want to consider an insurance policy...

Lastly, and a complete aside from my main point, I think making an eagle scout from a neighboring state the poster child for 'recklessness' is a bad PR move for a state that relies on tourism dollars built upon the outdoor lifestyle.

Brad
07-18-2009, 02:08 PM
Jim,

I am with you on this one. Since hearing about the charging to recover costs in this case I have been struggling with why it makes sense. True, it sounds like he continued into potential danger by going up even after he was hurt. But, did he know how badly he was hurt at the time? He sure seemed to get around for being "hurt". He really did very well in this situation.

There are folks who are clearly reckless in their actions, even to us folks. But, we are normally prepared with proper equipment and have folks knowing where we are going and what we are doing - just like this kid. He had to bail from the ridge and did not know about the high water stream crossings in that area. I would not either even though I have spent years on these mountains and on the trails. He worked hard to survive and get out and seemed to be prepared. But, we do not know the whole story.

Better definition of reckless would sure help us all. I know that I do things most folks think is beyond them - maybe even reckless - but it is a matter of judgement and experience. And knowing when to bail.

Many years ago I was involved with an accident on Lion Head where we had to call in for help. After a boulder rolled down the trail pinning one camper - 2 others were in the stone rubble above the boulder, we moved everyone up the trail above the accident except for the pinned boy. One counselor stayed with the group and I took a strong camper and we ran down Lion Head trail and up to HoJo's to notify the caretaker. He radioed for help - then the 3 of us ran back up the trail with auto jacks and long pry bars. (7 mins down and 15 mins up) When we got to the site the boy was out from under the rock but his elbow was badly messed up. The other counselor had been able to pick out dirt between the elbow and the rock allowing him to pull the arm out.

There was not much expense - multiple people running up from PNVC with a stretcher - back down - Dr driving up the Auto Road - carrying him up and over to the road and out for medical help. But, if there was a lot of expense, would there have been a charge? In this case, trail clearing crew had cut a root that was holding the boulder in place. When pressed on by the first person in our group the boulder started to roll down the trail like it was a bowling alley gutter. Were we reckless by being out there?

Yes, there was probably a lot of cost involved with this rescue. But, I am having a tough time seeing the reckless part based on what I know of the story.

Charlie
07-18-2009, 03:03 PM
your right it is a hard call the F&G a paid staff and i would not work for nothing either if thats my job .but i do volunteer for S&R and thats my choice but there are expenses even for search teams and we had to close ours up because of that . even the fire co are having a tough time getting money to keep up with new trucks and equipment .
the fire co here are now charging for materiel used to clean up a car crash .they send it to your insurance co . more then 75% of the crashes are people that dont live in that town and donate to them so why should the people of the town pay for it ?


its a tough call on this one

mtruman
07-18-2009, 05:15 PM
I'm with Jim and Brad on this. This kid may have made some mistakes, but it is easy for that to happen in that kind of circumstance. He seemed like he was quite prepared as Jim indicated. I'm almost always on the other side of this debate - feeling that the reckless hiker should in fact be fined (where most often they are not). This seems like the wrong time - particularly for such a large fine (even if it is to recover rescue costs).

mrohssler
07-18-2009, 05:59 PM
I will be waiting to hear how the state of new hampshire is going to treat the family of Mr Shintani. The poor gentleman lost his life in ,which on the surface, seems to be a more reckless case. Are they going to bill his grieving family. I think the state is setting a very bad precedent without a mechanism in place to make honest,informed decisions. If they are going to pursue this path of cost recovery they should set up a review panel,including members of the climbing community and the S&R groups to help decide if an action was negligent and recoverable. I hope the state is not just targeting a family, they feel has resources, in an attempt to recoup some funds.

Bill O
07-18-2009, 07:00 PM
I'll give $10 to the Obs if this boy or his family ever pay more than $1,000 towards this rescue effort. This is a news headline, not reality.

Let me know when your house burns down. I'll make sure the fire department sends you the bill for putting out the fire.

Note: For $150 (2000 data) you get full access to Denali NP plus 100% of rescue costs.

mtruman
07-18-2009, 07:49 PM
I'll give $10 to the Obs if this boy or his family ever pay more than $1,000 towards this rescue effort. This is a news headline, not reality.

Let me know when your house burns down. I'll make sure the fire department sends you the bill for putting out the fire.

Note: For $150 (2000 data) you get full access to Denali NP plus 100% of rescue costs.

If you're smoking in be then the fire department should send the bill. $150 for Denali is pretty reasonable. Not quite so many foolish people there though (unless they have the money for a guide service to haul their butt up the mountain...)

Breeze
07-18-2009, 09:25 PM
Scott Mason actually walked his own ass out of trouble, to safety. SAR chose their approach based on parental fright/concern.

He wasn't rescued (as in pulled out of a bad place by brute force.) He self-rescued by going back UP to Gulfside, after he bushwhacked his way across the upper topo cirque of Great Gulf from 6 Husbands to Sphinx, bypassing the high water and deep stuff.

I'd be taking issue with Maj. Tim Acerno's allegations of Scott's adventure, because Scott WAS trying to "come down" east and out of windage to Great Gulf Trail. Coming Down wasn't a happening thing.

Looks and smells like a fi$$hing expedition and the State of NH wants geld.

Boo and hiss.

Breze





I don't want to think that the State of New Hampshire goes fi$$$$hing for dollars

bclark
07-18-2009, 11:14 PM
This has turned into a good discussion IMHO....I like it. At the same time, it certainly is becoming evident that I have the fringe opinion, at least in this forum. A couple things that I want to point out...

Jim mentioned semantics and now I'm going to bring some to light again:


...I don't see how this was reckless...


One of the big phrases that circulated with this reckless hiker statute...


Better definition of reckless would sure help us all.


...to help decide if an action was negligent...

The law/statute/whatever that F&G used to bill Scott Mason for the cost of his rescue does not go after "reckelss" hikers. It goes after "negligent" hikers. There's a big difference, in my opinion, between a reckless hiker and a negligent hiker. Here's the excerpt from the article that talks about this :


Several states, including neighboring Maine and Vermont, have rescue repayment laws similiar to New Hampshire, though others tend to be more lenient. In Washington state, a bill that would have created a reimbursement system with fines capped at $500 never even made it out of committee this year. In New Hampshire, however, lawmakers made it even easier to charge for rescues last year when they changed the law to allow fines for those who acted negligently instead of the harder to prove standard of recklessness.

Moving on:

Sounds like he was prepared.


He seemed like he was quite prepared as Jim indicated

A question for both of you...what makes you think that he was prepared? Was there something you read in the media that made it seem that he was? I was told by people involved with the rescue that Mr. Mason was indeed NOT properly prepared, especially for the hike he set out on.


Scott Mason actually walked his own ass out of trouble, to safety.

Maybe this is picking on semantics again, but that statement is not entirely true. Scott Mason got lost in the Great Gulf Wilderness and then did find his way back onto the ridge on his own. Rescuers found him somewhere around Clay Col, clearly on his way to the summit. What do you suppose he was going to do one he reached for the summit? He was probably going to come knocking on the door and he would have ended up getting ride down just like he did anyways. Would he have ended up "walking his own ass out of trouble"? Doubtful, because that would have meant hiking an additional 4+ miles down the mountain to Pinkham.

Ultimately, it seems that people such as myself who were more closely involved with the SAR operations have a differing opinion from those that got all their information from the media, who by the way, made this kid out to be a hero.

JimS
07-19-2009, 08:23 AM
Ultimately, it seems that people such as myself who were more closely involved with the SAR operations have a differing opinion from those that got all their information from the media, who by the way, made this kid out to be a hero.


This is a very good point, the media loves a self rescue and really did play this one up. Perhaps rightfully so after a few extra nights alone on the storied Mount Washington. And although I had heard in early reports that he had crampons, adequate clothing and shelter, I certainly am far from knowing the whole story.

Also, good mention on the fact that the law was changed last year from reckless to negligent. But a further definition of what that means would be helpful. We've all seen really negligent and can easily point to things like no map, late start without a headlamp, no shelter, poor footwear and alcohol. But there is a grey area in between that I think this challenges.

Is hiking alone always negligent?
Is leaving the trail for any reason negligent?
Is winter climbing inherently negligent?
and closest to me...
Is night hiking negligent?

I think my biggest problem with the fine is that the intent of the trip isn't far from what many experinced peak baggers, winter climbers, and myself set out to do in a weekend. And though he made some mistakes, his decisions don't seem too far off base given the gravity of his situation.

There are many, many hikers who are far less prepared that need rescue that I support the cost recovery on, but this really opens up serious financial risk on an activity that I have work hard to intensely plan for and undertake as safely as possible...

paulgla
07-19-2009, 10:25 AM
There is another side to this as well. This will set a precident in NH for the ability to pose large fines on people for needing rescue services. And it is a fine no matter how you want to reword it. When people are in need in the future will they need to think of their back pocket before calling for help? I would hate to think that help won't be sought because people will be afraid of what it will cost them.

We live in difficult economic times but this is not the best way to recoup.

VZeroMax
07-19-2009, 07:17 PM
Just for comparison - - I hike and climb in the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park. You buy a park pass for $5 and as long as you have it you qualify to be rescued. THAT's called making the outdoors accessible.

I have a problem with saying this kid is responsible for a $25K bill. It's ridiculous for all those commenting here to claim they would "never go off trail" and that they would "never make that kind of judgement error". It just means you haven't tried anything resembling a tough mission.

There's not a hiker or top mountaineer that I've ever heard of or talked to that hasn't made some stupid mistake along the way. That's called getting EXPERIENCE. And remember, we have basically a disneyworld version of the outdoors here with a controlled environment and trails that look like walkways. In MOST subalpine environments there are NO trails and people get lost ALL THE TIME. It's part of the experience.

So net net, I think those posts that are saying the kid should have done this or that, must be written by some awesome route finders who have never gotten lost (or alternatively haven't ventured outside the confines of the appalachian trail). The real problem are these people in the state of New Hampshire trying to turn this thing into a revenue opportunity. They know very well that they could turn literally every rescue into a negligence claim. It disgusts me to think that a wrong turn in a white out could escalate into a courtroom discussion over whether there was "negligence" involved in trying to route find in zero viz in a snowstorm.

I think it would be a better idea to focus the MWOBS on making sure these guys don't get anywhere with this and the kid gets left alone.

Who's up for that ?

mrohssler
07-19-2009, 08:58 PM
On a side note I was having a picnic today with a friend of mine who is an insurance underwriter I told him about what was going on and he told me that most insurance companies include personal property coverage with homeowners or renters insurance policies. He was saying that in a case like this the insurance company would cover you and fight it out with the state as long as nothing illegal was involved. Maybe that is what is behind New Hampshires thoughts.

bclark
07-20-2009, 12:57 PM
Since VZeroMax's post seemed to mostly be directed at anyone thinking billing Scott Mason for his rescue was appropriate, and since I seem to be the only one posting that thinks this, I feel the need to respond to certain things in his post.


It's ridiculous for all those commenting here to claim they would "never go off trail" and that they would "never make that kind of judgement error". It just means you haven't tried anything resembling a tough mission.

I don't believe that anyone that has posted here has made this claim. I know I haven't. Of course, one has to keep in mind that going off the trial is highly discouraged in the Whites, not necessarily because of the possibility of getting lost, but more because of the impact it has on the ecology of the mountains, especially when it comes to the alpine zone.



There's not a hiker or top mountaineer that I've ever heard of or talked to that hasn't made some stupid mistake along the way.

I would agree with this point. However, the difference is preparation in my opinion. If you're equipped and prepared and plan properly, you may not need to be rescued if you get lost or make a "mistake".


The real problem are these people in the state of New Hampshire trying to turn this thing into a revenue opportunity. They know very well that they could turn literally every rescue into a negligence claim. It disgusts me to think that a wrong turn in a white out could escalate into a courtroom discussion over whether there was "negligence" involved in trying to route find in zero viz in a snowstorm.

Again, it comes down to preparation. Someone who isn't negligent would look at the weather before heading out on a hike. If they see a storm is coming which could produce poor visibility, they would not hike if they are not experienced enough to route find in those conditions. If someone with that kind of experience does go out, prepared, and gets lost and/or hurt, then they should not and likely would not be billed for their rescue.


So net net, I think those posts that are saying the kid should have done this or that, must be written by some awesome route finders who have never gotten lost (or alternatively haven't ventured outside the confines of the appalachian trail).

This statement really bothers me, mostly because it's extremely unfair to assume that about someone who happens to have that opinion about this issue. It also bothers me because it certainly isn't correct about me. If you knew me at all, you would know that I have ventured outside the confines of the AT and the trail in general (responsibly I might add) on countless occasions. Do I consider myself an "awesome route finder"? No, nor did I claim to be.



I think it would be a better idea to focus the MWOBS on making sure these guys don't get anywhere with this and the kid gets left alone.

First of all in response to this, I will reiterate that although I am an Observatory staff member, I am posting my own personal opinion here.

Regardless, I think it should be clear that the Observatory has absolutely no say whatsoever in this matter, nor should we anymore than anyone here in the forums. We are a non-profit, member supported, scientific organization. We help with SAR operations on a completely volunteer basis and about 90% of the time, that involves providing weather information to those in charge of the SAR. The decision to bill Mr. Mason for the cost of his rescue was made by Fish and Game.

mtruman
07-20-2009, 02:28 PM
Just for comparison - - I hike and climb in the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park. You buy a park pass for $5 and as long as you have it you qualify to be rescued. THAT's called making the outdoors accessible.


I'm definitely not looking to pick a fight here, but this statement seems to be going in the opposite direction. Are you saying that as long as someone pays a $5 fee he should be able to go out and do whatever he wants and be entitled to free rescue if he is totally unprepared, irresponsible and negligent? I hope not. In my opinion charging a $5 fee that entitles a person to rescue even more encourages irresponsible behavior (hey, I paid the rescue insurance fee, right?). Unless they are making the person who pays the fee sign some sort of agreement that relates to their preparedness.

If you read my historic posts on this subject you'll find that I always side with the idea of penalizing (fining, etc) someone who through their irresponsibility, negligence, unpreparedness not only creates costs for the rescue but also puts the lives of the SAR team members at risk (needlessly). Based on everything that I've heard in this particular case (much of it hearsay) I don't believe that this kid falls into the category that should incur the penalty. There is definitely no black and white answer here. Brian is also completely right about this having nothing to do with the OBS. Almost all of us here are only loosely associated with the OBS (a few employees, more members and many unaffiliated) and all of us are expressing our personal opinions.

BruceWO1B
07-20-2009, 04:04 PM
First lets ask whom supports NHF&G, it is not the state of New Hampshire, it is those guys that buy hunting and fishing licenses, matching money from Federal Government and some of the proceeds from ATV and Boat registrations, so whom do you think should pay for S&R the fishermen and hunters or those getting lost? If we do not want take a chance on getting a bill then we should consider a prepaid fee that lets you pay a $5 or $10 annually. if you fail to buy into the program they get to recoup up to $1000.00 a day. Otherwise we need to approach the state to fund NHF&G for S&R operations.

MelNino
07-20-2009, 04:11 PM
(as soon as I saw this story on SP, I had to pop over here)

Last time we hiked up, I'll admit it....we hiked stupid. We should have turned around earlier....when we saw the weather change. We were idiots.

If we need rescue, we probably would have had to pay, and I'd say we'd have deserved it (though I can say that safely from my computer now)

Was this kid really that unprepared? Depending how high (elevation, peeps :)) I was and what time of day I was injured, I might have pushed on up as well, not sure.

Anyway....I'd love to see the outcome of this, and it really is an interesting discussion

BlueDog
07-20-2009, 04:50 PM
The story just made it to Backpacker.com.

Link here. (http://www.backpacker.com/eagle_scout_fine_rescue/blogs/daily_dirt/1177)

Jory
07-20-2009, 04:54 PM
I want to thank most of you for your understanding. My son is having a harder time now dealing with the stress of an unexpected 25K bill and the media's accusations, than he did for 3 nights shivering alone and in pain in the Whites. To clarify a few points, soon after Scott was released from his overnight in the hospital, we sent one $500. check to the F&G and one $500. check to the NH Outdoor Council Volunteers to express our gratitude. (I had to borrow that money)

billysinc
07-20-2009, 05:27 PM
My turn:

I respect and give a lot of credit to the SAR folks for the job they do and that has nothing to do with my opinion on this kids predicament.

In the article it says that there's usually about 140 rescues in a typical year and that there's about 40 of them that they could seek reimbursement on. For the most part it's been pretty easy up till now to spot which 40 they're referring to. With this decision the line between what's negligent and what's not in my opinion has gotten a whole lot narrower.

I question Maj Acerno's statement criticizing this hiker about continuing up the mountain when hurt. Depending on the trail and how close to the top of it you are, going up in certain situations might actually be a smarter decision. If I was alone and injured and just a quarter mile from the top of lets say Six Husbands or Huntington Ravine I'd like my odds a whole lot better going up than trying to go down either one if hurt and once there I believe my chances of being found or helped by someone coming along probably goes way up.

I think every rescue situation is unique and some people deserve to be fined and granted I don't know all the specifics in this case, but I just don't see doling out such a steep fine here. But then again I don't live in NH so it doesn't hit my wallet. (for now)

Charlie
07-20-2009, 08:21 PM
last year at seek the peak i got up above the tree line just below lions head when legs cramped up bad .

so what would you do go up slow had hope you make it or go down .

i sat there for about an hour after i said to the people i was with to keep going and i would head down after a long break ,water and a snack . people said going down that trail is a tough one .it was but i think going up would have bin a mistake .
i took my time with walking poles and that helped .

i think i made a wise choice if i had to be helped out does that mean i pay ,NO .if i went off trail on my way down because i thought it would be faster and got lost then had to be helped out YES i pay .

JimS
07-20-2009, 08:48 PM
last year at seek the peak i got up above the tree line just below lions head when legs cramped up bad .

so what would you do go up slow had hope you make it or go down .

.

It's often discussed at the Obs that because of the 'civilization' at the top, many continue on into worse and worse conditions because of the perception of safety at the top. It is one of the few serious mountains that going up is even an option. Unfortunately, the safety net isn't as reliable as many would hope...the state park locks the doors, and the train is dependant on the crowd, and the auto road is weather fickle.

Most people that I can remember encountering that continued up with a problem definately fell into my perception of very negligent. And again, I'm all for the F&G recovering costs on the very negligent. I just am unclear on the negligence involved here, and whether it warrants such an exorbitant price...

billysinc
07-20-2009, 09:04 PM
Charlie I think it depends on the location, the injury, all sorts of factors. In your case and in 99 out of a 100 cases (or more) going down and not continuing is the right move. But I can still also envision a situation where going up might also make sense. Especially around Mt Washington and the surrounding Presidential's where with the exception of the above treeline exposure, once you get out of the ravines the travel becomes marginally easier. From where he was turning around might mean 8+ miles back with a tough rocky descent but going forward it might only be 3-4 miles and possible help for his injury. Tough decision for a 17 year old, alone, with an injury. Never mind a 40 something.

Breeze
07-20-2009, 09:21 PM
Read the relevant NH law at
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XVIII/206/206-26-bb.htm

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It is interesting to go back to the media reports ( which include named and verified insight/information from NHF&G while the incident was in progress.)

[url]http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/04/teams_search_fo.html (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XVIII/206/206-26-bb.htm)

From that ONE particular article is this

"Searchers found a single set of boot prints today and are following them, but they are uncertain whether they belong to Mason because of the heavy foot traffic over the weekend"

GAH~! There WERE others out there that weekend! Scott Mason WASN'T the only biped making bootprints!

You all know I've got an issue with the 25K assessed to Mason for his particular incident. I'm just piling that citation on ( in all seriousness) to underscore how the media recorded and represented verified statements from named F&G officials, that there was ( other) heavy foot traffic in area at the same time Scott was missing/overdue.

Breeze

JimS
07-20-2009, 10:42 PM
I want to thank most of you for your understanding. My son is having a harder time now dealing with the stress of an unexpected 25K bill and the media's accusations, than he did for 3 nights shivering alone and in pain in the Whites. To clarify a few points, soon after Scott was released from his overnight in the hospital, we sent one $500. check to the F&G and one $500. check to the NH Outdoor Council Volunteers to express our gratitude. (I had to borrow that money)

First, wanted to bump this, as I missed it. Thanks for your post...

The situation is creating quite an internet buzz, as I'm sure you've discovered. For you, and others on the board, there is another good discussion going on at VFTT:
http://www.viewsfromthetop.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31231

I do hope that you know that despite the opposing camps that the white mountain communities have broken into now, everyone was pulling for Scott during the rescue. And I know that everyone is still pulling for an amiable solution for all parties involved at this point as well.

I wish you and your family the best!

paulgla
07-20-2009, 10:54 PM
When I was 35 (17 years ago) I went to visit my uncle in Maine. He just bought a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I went in his back yard and somehow got lost. It was 10AM. I found my way out at 10PM. My family did not call for help and I was able to find my way out but if they had should I risk losing my house from the fine? You could argue I was negligent but I was not. All I did was walk in the back yard and got turned around.

I have hiked my whole life. I was ready to stop and build a fire when I found a logging road which led out of the forest. It was real close and all I had was a book of matches and 3 $10 bills. Boy did I feel stupid. Now my coat has a permanant survival kit in it, I keep a compass on my key ring, and have one attached to my coat so it won't happen again.

You could argue that anyone who hikes alone (even a day hike) is negligent. No matter how prepared you are there is always the possibility of missing something. Everyone who needs S&R should have had a Sat Phone because stuff happens and they were negilent for not having the phone. I don't believe that for a second but definitions can change to fit the scenario.

Jory, good luck with your appeal. If you lose and your boy is stuck for the 25K then maybe ssome form of fundraiser can be set up but even if you raise the money it still does not make it fair!!..........Paul

Bill O
07-21-2009, 07:10 AM
Has anyone considered what happens if he just doesn't pay?

I'm no expert in NH law, but my guess is that he has some right to due process. More importantly, a right to some sort of a trial with a jury.

Len
08-14-2009, 10:30 AM
Syndicated (I think)
columnist Tim Jones, Waterbury Rep-Am, 8/1/09, asked for
opinions on the rescue and fining of Scott Mason. See my response below.

--------------------------------------------------

I find the "bill" to rescue people in the mountains a heartless act.
It is a symptom of an society that was going down hill ethically and
culturally. The $25,234.65 reimbursement bill laid on teenager Scott
Mason of Massachusetts certainly falls in this category.

In 1979, I fell near the top of Algonquin Mountain in the Adirondacks.
It was February with temperatures into the minus 30s degrees F and
lower. We were coming down on hard packed snow and ice after peaking.
The fall initially knocked me out and separated my right shoulder. I
was well equipped as was my large party. After securing my shoulder,
we started down while one member went for assistance.

We were about half way down when state park people reached us. While
we were doing OK, it was reassuring that they were there. For example,
they had a boat sled in case I couldn't walk any longer. We all walked
out together well into night fall. A state employee took me to the
hospital. I certainly got a hospital bill but that was it.

I find these huge rescue bills particularly cruel when laid on young
people. It seems vindictive. Everyone can't know everything about
mountain hiking in a short period. This is particularly true of
working class urban youth who may not have that tradition in their
families.

Your nonmandatory hiking permit (Tim Jones) idea has merit and goes in a healthier direction. I suggest we use the National Guard for these mountain
rescues rather than military adventures in other countries.

After thirty years of the myth of rugged individualism, self
aggrandizement and more, I think we are slowly righting our ethical,
cultural ship. The surging movement for strengthening medicare and
healthcare for all is an example.

Thanks for the opportunity to share these thoughts.