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Drowning victim recovered in Pine River Pond


Emergency responders had busy Sunday


July 23, 2009
WAKEFIELD— The body of 47-year-old Robert Diaz of East Boston, Mass., was recovered Sunday afternoon, July 19 after he presumably drowned in Pine River Pond in Wakefield.

Diaz, who had been staying at a relative's residence in the area, was floating on an inflatable swim raft, according to the statement released by the NH Marine Patrol Bureau. According to a friend who witnessed the incident, Diaz had slipped off of the raft about 150 yards from shore.

Due to the breezy conditions, the lightweight mattress drifted away from Diaz as he attempted to swim to it. The friend followed Diaz from shore as Diaz attempted to swim back to the raft, which was blowing away in the wind. Unable to catch the raft, Diaz started swimming toward shore, but disappeared from view. The friend called for help at about 3:50 p.m., according to the release.

Responding agencies were Wakefield Fire and Rescue, Wakefield Police, NH Marine Patrol, and NH Fish and Game. A man on a personal watercraft observed Diaz at the bottom of the pond some 75 yards from shore, in about 10 feet of water, at about 4:30 p.m., at which time rescue personnel from the Wakefield Fire Department and Fish and Game recovered Diaz's body from a boat. The state medical examiner came to the scene. An autopsy will be conducted.

Fish and Game Sgt. Jim Juneau expressed sadness at Diaz's death.

"It's a sobering lesson in water safety, and a reminder to everyone not to overestimate their swimming abilities," he said. "If you're not a strong swimmer, wear a personal floatation device if you're far from shore or in water over your head. Boaters should always wear PFDs, no matter their paddling or swimming skills," he added. "Tragedies happen all too often."

In other cases that required emergency response on a busy Sunday, at about 7 p.m. that evening, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office notified Conservation Officers of a hiking situation on Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire's White Mountains. According to Sgt. Juneau, a group of three adults and one juvenile called on a cell phone from a trail descending Mt. Chocorua toward Route 16. The four had become separated from a larger hiking group of 13 after hiking the Champney Falls Trail to the summit of Mt. Chocorua. They did not know exactly where they were and they did not know the whereabouts of the other nine in their party -- including five juveniles and one 78-year-old male.

Officers from NH State Police and NH Fish and Game responded to the Champney Falls trailhead on the Kancamagus Highway and the Piper Trail trailhead on Route 16. The five juveniles emerged from the Champney Falls Trail, followed after a while by the remaining four adults. The four hikers who called for help emerged at the Piper Trail trailhead. The entire group, including relatives from Massachusetts, Michigan and California, was reunited and no one was harmed, according to the press release.

As the Chocorua case was resolving around 8 p.m., a call came in that three teenagers (ages 15-17) from a visiting youth group from Germany were unaccounted for, having become separated from other youths and their chaperones on a hike to Frankenstein Cliffs on the Arethusa Falls Trail at Crawford Notch. Fish and Game Conservation Officers responded to the trailhead. The missing teenagers had ended up on the Ripley Falls Trail and emerged onto Route 302. A motorist gave them a ride to the Arethusa Falls trailhead, where the chaperones were waiting for them.

Sgt. Juneau said, "Members of both hiking groups made a poor decision when they split up. Luckily, everyone's OK. But all hikers must learn to stay together, have a well-defined plan, carry the right gear, especially a trail map and compass -- and know how to rescue themselves if they get in trouble."

In light of the two dicey cases, officials issued this advisory to hikers:

Hiker Responsibility Code

You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:

1. With knowledge and gear. Become self reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

2. To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.

3. To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.

4. To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.

5. For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don't assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

6. To share the hiker code with others.

Visit http://www.hikesafe.com to help prepare for your next hike.

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