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Missing 82-year-old hiker found in NH

December 13, 2011
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DURHAM, N.H.—An elderly New Hampshire hiker who had been missing in below-freezing temperatures was found Tuesday morning, nearly 24 hours after he set off for his twice-weekly trek.

Fish and Game Department officials said a search crew rescued Bruce Charity, 82, around 10:30 a.m. after state police spotted him from a helicopter in a swampy area of Durham. Charity, who suffered from hypothermia, was being taken to the hospital in Dover.

His family referred to him as a "tough old woodsman."

"I'm just ecstatic, I'm shaking and everything," Charity's daughter, Robin Jabre, told WMUR-TV. "I'm so happy."

Emergency crews were called out about 6:20 p.m. Monday when Charity's wife called police to say he had not returned to his Newmarket home after the afternoon hike. He had set out about 2 p.m. and was following a deer trail when he lost his way.

"He left the trail," said Fish and Game Maj. Kevin Jordan. "This was a trail system he was familiar with. He certainly wanted to see the deer."

More than 100 people had searched the woods and extensive wetlands in Durham Monday evening into Tuesday.

Temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, and authorities were also concerned about flooded conditions in the area, said Martin Garabedian of Fish and Game Law Enforcement.

"We're ecstatic at the happy ending to this search," Garabedian said.

Charity hikes regularly in the area, which has many popular trails. Jordan said Charity was dressed in layers. "He had some good, warm clothing on, which probably saved his life," he said.

Charity also was savvy enough not to roam around, Jordan said. "He knew enough to admit he was lost and to sit down and to wait for daylight."

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