Lieutenant Mark Ober
January 3, 2020
Franconia, NH – A two-day search ended successfully Thursday morning when a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter located and then extracted a lost hiker from the west side of Mt. Lincoln in the Walker Brook drainage, commonly referred to as Lincoln’s Throat.
The hiker, identified as Matthew Gunby, 36, of Meredith, NH, had been attempting to make it to the summit of Mt. Lafayette on Wednesday when high winds and blowing snow forced him to turn back between Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln. In the white out conditions near Mt. Lincoln, Gunby lost the trail and fell down a steep and rocky incline into Walker Brook drainage, suffering an upper body injury. Unable to make his way back up to the Franconia Ridge trail due to his injury, Gunby called 911 for help.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Services responded to the call and searched throughout the night and into the early morning hours for Gunby. The initial GPS coordinates from the 911 call placed Gunby in the Dry Brook drainage. However, this GPS coordinate was not accurate and the search became futile, as Gunby’s whereabouts remained unknown. The search was temporarily suspended at 3:00 a.m.
At daybreak, Conservation Officers and members of Pemigewasset Search and Rescue prepared to again search for the lost hiker, unaware of what his condition would be after a long night exposed to the elements. Gunby was able to survive the night and managed to make another call to 911 in the morning, which provided a more accurate GPS coordinate of his location. Due to the remote, steep location of this coordinate, and his weakened physical state due to overnight exposure to winter conditions, a call was made to the National Guard requesting their Blackhawk helicopter.
The Blackhawk responded from Concord and was on station at 10:00 a.m. At 10:11 a.m., the helicopter crew had located Gunby and 15 minutes later had safely hoisted him into the helicopter and out of danger. The helicopter landed at the Cannon Mountain parking lot where Gunby was then transferred to the Franconia Fast Squad ambulance. Gunby was ultimately transported to Littleton Regional Hospital for treatment of his injuries.