Injured Hiker Must Pay Rescue Fees

Court finds Michigan man liable for $9,300

Apr 30, 2015
Outside Magazine
Injured Hiker Must Pay Rescue Fees

The hiker had to be carried out of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest in 2012 with a dislocated hip.    Lee/Flickr

A judge ruled on Thursday that a man who injured himself while hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains in 2012 must pay $9,300 to the state’s Fish and Game Department for his rescue, according to the AP. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found that Edward Bacon, a 62-year-old outdoorsman from Michigan, had acted negligently in preparing for his expedition and was therefore responsible for the costs incurred during his rescue.

Bacon was on a five-day trip through the Franconia Notch when he dislocated his artificial hip and found himself stranded and unable to hike unassisted to safety. State employees eventually came to his aid, carrying him through high winds and “torrential downpours,” and probably saving his life, according to a press release published by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department a few days after the incident.

When he was hit with the $9,300 bill, Bacon disputed the charges. But in 2014, a Concord District Court judge affirmed the state’s assessment that Bacon had overestimated his fitness for the expedition and ignored warnings that the weather was turning, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Bacon continues to insist that his injury was not his fault and that his doctors assured him he had the strength to complete the hike. He has also disputed Fish and Game’s claim that he dislocated his hip by trying to jump backward over a ledge.

Since 2008, New Hampshire has been able to offload rescue costs to hikers if the state could prove that the person’s predicament was due his or her own negligence. As Outside reported in 2012, the state has contemplated selling an optional rescue insurance card for hikers that would cover any rescue costs.

“If you’re getting rescued, there should be an expectation you’re going to participate in the cost of that rescue,” Senate Republican leader Jeb Bradley said at the time.

One form of insurance, a Hike Safe card that sells for $25, has been available in New Hampshire since January.

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