Court upholds $9,000 bill for Michigan hiker rescued in White Mountains

Last modified: 5/3/2015 5:26:09 PM
A Michigan man must pay the state more than $9,000 for costs related to a 2012 rescue in the White Mountains.

The state Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s decision against hiker Edward Bacon, who was 59 when Fish and Game search teams and volunteers rescued him after he dislocated a replacement hip while hiking. The court reaffirmed that Bacon’s negligence led to the search and rescue. He was ordered to pay $9,200 for costs related to the efforts.

“To the extent that the defendant argues that his injury was not foreseeable, we agree with the trial court’s conclusions that the defendant’s injury was foreseeable and directly caused his need to be rescued by the department,” said the seven-page decision, issued yesterday.

Bacon argued there wasn’t enough evidence to prove negligence, and pegged the court’s damages as improper because the amount included recovery of expenses that Fish and Game would have incurred regardless of its efforts rescue him.

Bacon, who had undergone four hip surgeries and had an artificial hip, set out on a five-day hiking trip in September 2012. He planned to hike several mountains with summits that have elevations of about 5,000. Bacon dislocated his hip when he jumped to traverse a waist-high rock ledge, according to court documents. The subsequent rescue involved 15 Fish and Game personnel and 35 volunteers working from afternoon through early morning the next day.

The Supreme Court leaned on facts presented in the previous bench trial: Bacon’s multiple hip surgeries, bad back and that he trained for his trip in a city park with 250-foot hills and gravelly spots that “did not remotely resemble the challenging terrain he would experience in the White Mountains.”

Bacon also argued the $9,000 bill was a windfall for the department because some officers were already on duty and would have been paid regardless of the rescue.

“Not only does this argument fail to take into account the overtime paid to department employees who would not have worked in the absence of the rescue, but it also ignores the fact that, by being diverted to the rescue operation, department employees were unable to perform their other assigned duties,” the decision read.



(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com or on Twitter 
@iainwilsoncm.)




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