Sunday, April 25, 2004

They were reckless too

I meant to comment on this incident earlier but for one reason or another hadn't gotten to it. However, my previous post reminded me of it. This happened over a month ago. Although it was technically the second day of spring, winter hadn't left yet. Here's their story:

Tragic fate met on a mountain
Frostbitten spouse recounts errors that killed wife on hike
By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff, 3/30/2004

Dressed and equipped for just a 9-mile day hike over the summit of three New Hampshire peaks, Russell and Brenda Cox kept heading up toward the summit of the first, Mount Lafayette, even after descending hikers warned that conditions were deteriorating. When the Andover couple finally decided to turn back, Russell Cox said yesterday, they headed down the wrong trail.

That last error, on March 21, led to the Andover couple getting trapped near the summit for nearly 48 hours in a late-winter storm.
Brenda Cox, also 43, was unresponsive when rescuers used a helicopter to rescue the two from the mountainside. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Her funeral was scheduled for this morning in North Billerica.

Also present yesterday was a New Hampshire Fish & Game official, who said the fatal hiking trip on the 5,260-foot peak is under investigation by his agency and the New Hampshire attorney general's office. Under a 1999 law, Cox could be charged with negligence and required to pay thousands of dollars for the cost of his rescue.

"In my opinion, it was a case of a failure to turn," said Lieutenant Todd Bogardus of New Hampshire Fish & Game, who initiated the two-day rescue operation. "Upon trying to summit on Mount Lafayette, there may have been a period when they should have made a different decision and turned to go back."

The Coxes did not bring a sleeping bag, a tent, or a stove on their day hike, items that Fish & Game officials said could have saved Brenda's life. They were not wearing any insulating layers of clothing, nor did they leave an itinerary with anyone before leaving the trailhead.

Asked about the investigation, Cox said he hadn't thought about it.
And then, he had the audacity to declare:
"It doesn't concern me," said Cox, whose fingertips were still purple from frostbite. "I'm very happy to be alive. I miss Brenda with all my heart and I'm glad she lived the active life that she lived and that she died doing what she loved."
Unlike the Japanese hostage situation, I know something substantive about this one. I've hike the White Mountains many times and this Franconia Ridge Loop as well. No one should attempt this anytime without equipment, let alone doing it in March. They did none of the things they should for the hike. They were reckless too.

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