New Hampshire’s Fish and Game searchers Wednesday found the body of a Massachusetts woman who would have turned 20 that day.
Emily Sotelo’s body was discovered on the northwest side of Mount Lafayette after 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to a department statement.
Sotelo was close to reaching her goal of hiking New Hampshire’s 48 peaks above 4,000 feet before she turned 20, according to an Associated Press report. The hiker was not properly prepared for the deep snow and high winds that developed Sunday, Fish and Game officials explained. The AP report noted she only had on a light jacket and hiking sneakers; her exercise pants were pulled over long underwear.
“Weather conditions by Sunday evening were single digit temperatures, 40 to 60 mile per hour winds, blowing snow, and she was not dressed accordingly for those temperatures,” Fish and Game Major David Walsh informed WMUR-TV. “Those are extreme conditions and then she ended up off trail.”
“The biggest lessons learned in a tragedy like this is when you’re hiking in New Hampshire, especially in the White Mountains, be prepared for the unexpected,” Major Walsh added. “Be prepared with knowledge. Know the weather conditions. Dress for the weather conditions. Have extra clothes. Have extra food, water. Have a headlamp map, a compass.”
Sotelo began a solo hike of Franconia Ridge early in the morning of November 20. When she did not return when expected, a family member notified Fish and Game. Because of harsh weather conditions, a search started Sunday evening and continued overnight. High winds, cold temperatures and blowing snow hampered searchers who spent the next two days looking for Sotelo. Tracks and items belonging to the missing hiker were located at the headwaters of Lafayette Brook Tuesday afternoon, according to the Fish and Game Department.
A National Guard helicopter helped retrieve the body from the remote location she was found and transported her to Cannon Mountain Ski Area.
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