North County has seen unusual number of fatal medical emergencies among hikers

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 09-06-2022 1:31 PM

New Hampshire’s north country has seen an unusual number of hikers dying in the mountains this summer due to medical emergencies rather than falls or hypothermia, although exactly why is unclear.

“There’s high usage, but I think a lot of these people just aren’t prepared or they don’t realize the physical exertion it takes to hike. They think, ‘these are small mountains’,” said Lt. Mark Ober of New Hampshire Fish and Game, whose beat is Coos County. “It’s hard work, and if their bodies are not used to it, (emergencies) are a function of that.”

Ober said Coos County has seen three fatal heart attacks among male hikers as young as 46 in the White Mountains this year, two of them on Mount Washington, as well as Sunday’s incident in which a 39-year-old woman died due to an unspecified “medical emergency” while hiking on Mount Cabot, north of the White Mountains.

“It’s unusual,” said Ober of these figures.

Detailed statistics were not immediately available on medical emergency deaths vs deaths caused by falls, other injuries, or exposure to the mountains’ extreme weather. One man died due to hypothermia in June on Mt. Clay.

At least four rescues of people suffering non-fatal medical emergencies have been reported this summer by Fish and Game, on locations from Mt. Monadnock to the Presidential Range. At least two fatalities have also been reported due to falls in the mountains this summer.

 

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