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Search for Loudon 16-year-old who died by suicide featured on ‘North Woods Law’

  • In this image made from video, New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers (from left) Scott Lacrosse, Mike Matson and Shawn MacFadzen look at GPS coordinates in their search for Alec White. Courtesy

  • Conservation officers Mike Matson and Scott Lacrosse talk with 16-year-old Alec White’s father Jeff White before the search for Alec in Loudon in November.  Courtesy—

  • The search for Alec White last November brought together almost 100 people. Courtesy



Monitor staff
Saturday, April 14, 2018

When Tina and Jeff White’s 16-year-old son Alec went missing last November, nearly 100 people, including Fish and Game officers, police, U.S. marshals and other volunteers embarked on a massive search along Route 106 in Loudon.

Along for the multi-day effort were filmmakers with Animal Planet’s North Woods Law, a reality show that takes viewers deep into the heart of New Hampshire backcountry.

Tina and Jeff had given the crew permission to document the search for their son, who was eventually found after taking his own life. The parents gave the filmmakers permission again months later, this time to use the footage from the November search in their show.

“I don’t want Alec’s death and Alec’s story not to be told,” Jeff White said. “With suicide, it’s a very uncomfortable conversation to start, but it’s an important one. Maybe his portion of the program is enough to open that line of communication.”

The producers from North Woods Law approached the Whites five months ago just as law enforcement started searching the area around Route 106 in Loudon where Alec was seen last. They agreed to be discrete and respectful of the family’s space, and the Whites told them it was alright if they filmed.

“I had no expectation they would air it,” Jeff said. “At that point, that was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to find my son.”

When the producers checked back in with the Whites, the family decided they wanted Alec’s story to be part of the show.

The episode, “Over the Edge,” which aired March 18, starts by detailing a confrontation between Fish and Game officers and a hunter accused of illegally shooting pheasant and later, a moose – all fairly typical topics for the average North Woods Law episode.

Then, about a half hour into the program, the episode takes a more serious turn, showing groups of police, Fish and Game officers, U.S. marshals and volunteers in Loudon looking for Alec.

Alec had a history of depression and suicide attempts. His family was hoping they would find him alive, but they were preparing for the worst.

Conservation officer Lt. Scott Lacrosse is shown directing his team of conservation officers using a GPS navigator.

“Suicide is potentially in play here,” Lacrosse says. “We’re hoping that’s not the case.”

The show follows search efforts by dog teams, Loudon police officers and the national guard tracking the landscape with helicopters.

At one point, someone reports to the police department that Alec had been on his cell phone posting on Snapchat, but it turns out to be a false alarm.

When they finally find Alec, it’s a hard moment for the rescuers as well as the family.

“As far as telling somebody that they lost a loved one, there’s nothing worse than that,” Lacrosse says. “This is definitely the hardest part of the job.”

The family said they felt the episode was done in good taste, and they were happy for the chance to tell Alec’s story.

“Unfortunately the ending was not what we had hoped,” Tina White said. “But it was so positive to see the community come together.”

Conservation officer Shawn MacFadzen said it was the most volunteers he’d ever seen for a line search. Almost 100 people were involved in the process in one way or another.

“You see the turnout, and how much love and compassion there is, and you wish the individual just knew how many people actually cared about him,” MacFadzen said. “Maybe things would have been different.”

If you or someone you know might be at risk for suicide, contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. 

For additional resources, visit NAMI New Hampshire's Connect Program at www.theconnectprogram.org.