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Gilford resident missing for hours, airlifted off Whiteface

July 28, 2010
Several hours after a 62-year-old Gilford man took off on his four-wheeler last Tuesday morning, he was reported missing by a relative. He was later found on Whiteface Mountain and airlifted for serious but not life threatening injuries.

At 9:30 a.m., the Gilford resident took out his all-terrain vehicle for the day, and left a note on the door for a family member, informing them that he took off on the mountain trail.

At 4:50 p.m., Gilford Fire Rescue was informed by a concerned relative that the man, whose name cannot be released at this time, should have returned from his ride on the Whiteface trail in Gilford, and assumed he was missing.

"We assembled the crews and sent two four wheelers into the woods at 6:30," said Gilford Fire Chief John Beland, whose crew was also assisted by a handful of Laconia Fire Department members and New Hampshire Fish and Game who specialize in search and rescues.

About 16 Gilford crew members and four or more Laconia Fire Department members were present, along with Fish and Game officers.

By 7:30 p.m., GFR firefighter Scott Mooney, one of the two searchers on an ATV, had located the victim by what is referred to as "the ledges," by a rock boulder field on the mountain trail.

It appeared that the man had fallen off his four-wheeler.

"The victim had crashed his four-wheeler at 11 a.m. that morning. He had been there for quite a while," said Beland.

Beland said the terrain would have posed problems in carrying the injured patient down 1,500 feet, and although his injuries were not life threatening, it was decided that a Dartmouth Hitchcock helicopter, which managed to land on the summit, would transport the man to the hospital.

The man was lifted off the mountain by 9:25 p.m. after carried to the mountaintop, where it took another hour or so for all searchers to return from the mountain.

The man was conscious when found by the crew, although he appeared to have suffered some chest injuries.

He was believed to have his cell phone, although GFR received no response when attempting to contact the man to figure out his exact location.

"We have fairly frequent calls such as this (in the summer, spring, and fall). A percentage of the calls will resolve themselves on their own, but it's not atypical for us to be doing carry outs," said Beland. "The mountain trails are all heavily traveled, so it's not uncommon."

Martin Lord & Osman
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Varney Smith
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