Conservation Officer Lt. James Kneeland
May 16, 2022
Orford, NH – On Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 12:40 p.m., NH Fish and Game was notified of a 73-year-old male hiker near the summit of Mount Cube who was suffering a medical emergency. Local fire department personnel from Orford, Lyme, Wentworth, Hanover, and Thetford VT, along with Conservation Officers and volunteers from Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team, responded to the 2.5-mile Cross Rivendell Trail. As rescuers climbed towards the hiker’s location a call was placed to the NH Army National Guard in an attempt to facilitate a helicopter extraction. The NH Army National Guard was able to assemble a flight crew quickly. At 2:35 p.m., the first ground crews arrived at the distressed hiker and by 2:45p.m. the Blackhawk helicopter arrived on scene and was able to lower a medic By 2:55 p.m. the hiker was hoisted via jungle penetrator to the Blackhawk and was in route to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center for treatment.
The hiker, identified as Richard Nagri of Manchester, NH, was hiking with a companion and as they arrived at the summit of Mount Cube the incident occurred. The companion quickly notified 911 by cell phone. Nagri was well prepared and an experienced hiker.
Franconia, NH – As rescuers were responding to Mount Cube, two more calls of injured hikers were reported to NH Fish and Game. Shortly after 4:00 p.m., two separate calls regarding hikers on the Bridle Path with lower-leg injuries that prevented them from continuing were reported. Both hikers were descending the trail from the summit of Mount Lafayette. The first report was from a 34-year-old female solo hiker who had fallen and injured her leg. Only a short distance from AMC’s Greenleaf Hut, Good Samaritan hikers carried her to the hut to wait for rescue. The second report was from a 28-year-old male who had suffered a leg injury approximately 1.75 miles from the trailhead. Conservation Officers along with volunteers from Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team and Lakes Region Search and Rescue Team reported. As the flight crew from the earlier Orford incident was still at the hanger in Concord a request was placed to determine if they could respond to Mount Lafayette and extract the injured hiker located at Greenleaf Hut, 3 miles from the trailhead. Both incidents occurred as a storm cell was arriving in the area. NH Army National Guard advised they would head in that direction and make an attempt. Unfortunately, the Blackhawk encountered severe weather while in route that prevented them from making it to the area for an extraction.
Ground crews continued toward both injured parties. At 5:55 p.m., the first rescuers arrived at the injured hiker closest to the trailhead. They were able to quickly stabilize the injury and determine that he would be able to hobble down the trail with assistance. This allowed more rescuers to be able to continue to the Greenleaf Hut. The team of over 30 rescuers started arriving at the Greenleaf Hut at 6:52 p.m. and determined that the injured hiker would need to be carried. The injury was stabilized and the hiker was placed into a rescue litter. The rescue team departed from Greenleaf Hut at 7:45 p.m.
By 8:40 p.m. the hiker being assisted down the trail arrived at the trailhead. The male hiker was identified as William Hernandez of New York, NY. He reported that they had encountered icy trails throughout the day but as he was traversing a relatively easy stretch of trail he had somehow injured his lower leg. A hiking companion called 911 to report the incident after determining that they would not be able to make it without assistance. The pair was well prepared for a day hike. Hernandez was transported from the trailhead for medical care by his companion.
At 11:45 p.m., the second rescue team arrived at the trailhead. The female hiker was identified as Andrea Dicunzolo of Pelham, NH. Dicunzolo reported that as she descended the trail she slipped causing an injury to her lower leg that she knew would prevent her from continuing without being carried off the mountain. Dicunzolo was well prepared for a day hike and had hiked many of New Hampshire’s 4,000 footers. Dicunzolo was transported from the trailhead by LinWood ambulance to Littleton Regional Hospital for treatment.
A steady rain occurred throughout the rescue as well as thunder and lightning. Rescuers encountered steep, icy, and wet trails making for slow travel. All rescuers arrived at the trailhead uninjured. As a reminder, icy conditions persist at higher elevations and traction devices are a necessary piece of equipment for hikers. Sturdy footwear should be worn that provides not only support but protection from rocks, as well as traction on dry and wet surfaces. Rescuers encountered many unprepared hikers as they climbed the trail. They lent out extra headlamps and other equipment so that unprepared hikers could make it safely back to the trailhead.
For safe hiking tips and a list of essential gear, visit hikesafe.com. Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to purchase a Hike Safe card at wildnh.com/safe. The card helps support Fish and Game search and rescue activities.