N.H. likely to charge Mass. hiker whose wife called for help as he slept in a hotel

  • A National Guard helicopter flies over Mount Washington while searching for missing hiker, 70-year-old Christophe Chamley of Massachusetts, on April 23, 2018. New Hampshire Fish and Game Department officials are calling the search a waste of time, money and resources after he was found at a luxury hotel. A skier is seen climbing in deep snow on the Left Gully of Tuckerman Ravine. AP file

Monitor staff
Wednesday, May 02, 2018

A decision hasn’t been made yet, but it seems likely that the state will bill a Massachusetts man who was the subject of a widespread search in the Presidential Range last week even though he had changed his plans and checked into a hotel.

“We are unsure if we’re going to bill him. ... I’m more inclined to think that we will,” said Col. Kevin Jordan, head of the law enforcement division of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Jordan said it would be at least three weeks before the “command staff” at Fish and Game would decide whether to recommend billing Christophe Chamley, 70, of Cambridge, Mass.

Chamley told his wife he was taking a day hike on Mount Adams and Mount Jefferson on April 22, but he changed his plans partway through and hiked down to the Omni Mount Washington Resort, where he checked in for the night.

Because Chamley hadn’t returned home, his wife called 911 at 3:48 a.m. Monday. That led to an extensive search Monday, involving a National Guard helicopter, two dozen people and a snowcat, before Chamley was found at the hotel. He told officials he had sent a text message to his wife about his change in plans but had not called to make sure she received it.

State law allows Fish and Game to bill for the expenses of a search and rescue if the subject of the search is judged to have been negligent. Because a helicopter was involved, the dollar figure for Chamley’s search would easily reach into the thousands.

Jordan said the search was reasonable, given what authorities knew at the time.

“You gamble based on the information provided by you. Because of his age – 70 – we were told he had a medical condition, was up on the highest peaks in the Northeast, 24 hours overdue, and hiking alone ... when he’s 24 hours over, we don’t wait,” Jordan said.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)