Weekend Rescues Prompt Winter Weather Reminder to Hikers
The Warden Service is cautioning hikers to be prepared for winter weather, after two rescues over the weekend.
One rescue involved an Appalachian Trail hiker who wardens say probably wouldn't have survived the night, due to hypothermia. 38-year-old Christopher Lebel of Phippsburg was hiking on the trail with his dog on Saturday when, about four miles into his trip, he fell into the water. Lebel changed his clothes, but wardens say he was unable to get warm. He became hypothermic with below-freezing temperatures, windy conditions, and ice and snow on the ground. Lebel texted a friend that he needed help and they called 911 just before 10:00 Saturday night.
Game Wardens and rescuers rode ATV's as far as they could, and then hiked into the woods to find Lebel. They started a fire and gave him warm food and liquids until just after 4 am, when he was able to walk out of the woods to the ATV's.
"Lebel did not have appropriate clothing or hiking gear for this time of year," said Game Warden Sergeant Scott Thrasher in a media release. "Had Lebel been unable to send a text for help, it is unlikely he would have survived the night in the woods."
In a separate incident on Saturday night, wardens rescued a family of five after they got stranded on the top of Tumbledown Mountain. 53-year-old Don Lantona, his 52-year-old wife Meena Latona, and their children: 18-year-old Connor Latona; 20-year-old Meaghan Latona; and 22-year-old Ashley Latona from Freehold, New Jersey, had climbed to the top of the mountain on Saturday but, due to the snow and ice at the summit, were unable to find the trailhead to start the hike back down.
The family was not dressed properly for the cold conditions and didn't have enough food, water, or lighting, to attempt the climb as the sun went down, so they called 911 just before 7:00. Game wardens and first responders hiked up the mountain, where it was windy, with temperatures in the low 30's, and found the family huddled together for warmth. They built a fire and warmed the family sufficiently to enable them to hike back down the mountain, arriving at the base at around midnight.
Wardens caution anyone thinking of heading out for a hike that there's still snow and ice on the trails of many mountains, as well as sub-freezing temperatures. It's important to be ready for any eventuality, in extreme conditions, to avoid situations like these two, over the weekend.