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Search continues for missing Waterville Valley woman



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A search team sets out on the hunt for 85-year-old Waterville Valley resident Beth Upton, who disappeared last week while on a walk near her home. (Matthew Polsky Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 15, 2010
WATERVILLE VALLEY — Hopes for the safe return of an elderly woman who disappeared near her summer home in Waterville Valley last week were tempered Sunday evening by the news that New Hampshire Fish & Game is ramping down its search for her.

Beth Upton, 85, left the summer home she shares with her husband on Boulder Path at around 3 p.m. last Tuesday, Sept. 7, intending to take a walk through a nearby wooded area, and has not been seen or heard from since.

Her disappearance prompted a massive search and rescue operation spearheaded by Fish & Game that, at its height, saw more than 150 volunteers and professional rescue personnel from throughout the state and beyond traipse through the rugged terrain of the White Mountain National Forest with the aid of dogs, horses, tracking equipment, and a Black Hawk helicopter on loan from the National Guard.

Of utmost concern to rescuers and members of her family is the possibility that Upton, whose husband and stepchildren have described her to the press as a brilliant individual and gifted artist who took part in early research into DNA and helped develop the specialized goggles used by military personnel to view atomic bomb tests during the 1940s and '50s, may have fallen victim to a bout of dementia and become disoriented during her walk.

After five days of round-the-clock searching, Fish & Game announced late Sunday night, after consulting with Upton's family, that it would be ramping down its efforts and pulling back some of the manpower and resources it had been funneling into the operation.

Fish & Game officials assured the media at that time that although the search is being scaled back, it will continue.

Upton stands five feet, three inches tall, with short gray hair, green eyes, and a slight build, and weighs 130 pounds. On the day of her disappearance, she was dressed in a light colored sweater, khaki pants, and white tennis shoes, and was last seen walking on West Branch Road, near her home.

Anyone with information on Upton's whereabouts is encouraged to call the Waterville Valley Police Department at 236-8809 or Fish & Game's dispatch center at 271-3361.

Photographs of Upton are available at www.wildnh.com/Newsroom.

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