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Officials recover body of missing Mass. hiker in New Hampshire

The body of Emily Sotelo, who would have turned 20 on Wednesday, was found just after 11 a.m. on the northwest side of Mount Lafayette in Franconia.

Emily Sotelo did not return from her intended hiking route of Mount Lafayette, Haystack, and Flume on Sunday. NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division and Operation Game Thief

The body of a hiker last seen Sunday morning in New Hampshire has been recovered, NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division and Operation Game Thief confirmed Wednesday.

The body of Emily Sotelo, who would have turned 20 on Wednesday, was found just after 11 a.m. on the northwest side of Mount Lafayette in Franconia, Fish and Game noted.

Sotelo was reportedly dropped off Sunday morning at Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia with the plan to hike Mount Lafayette, Haystack Mountain, and Mount Flume. When she did not return from her intended route later that day, a family member alerted New Hampshire Fish and Game. That evening, officials — worried about the harsh weather conditions — began searching for her and continued the search into the night.

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“Searchers were hampered by high winds, cold temperatures and blowing snow,” Fish and Game noted.

On Tuesday afternoon, tracks and items belonging to Sotelo were discovered at the headwaters of Lafayette Brook, officials said. The team made an effort to concentrate the search around that area on Wednesday.

At 11:15 a.m., ground searchers found her body and transported her remains to the Cannon Mountain Ski Area with the help of a New Hampshire Army National Guard helicopter.

Authorities have not officially confirmed Sotelo’s cause of death, but Capt. Michael Eastman of New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Law Enforcement Division told NBC10 Boston that she likely died from exposure to the elements. Sotelo was last seen wearing a brown jacket and exercise pants.

The Westford, Massachusetts, resident was attempting to finish hiking every 4,000-foot peak in New Hampshire before her 20th birthday this week, New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Chief Col. Kevin Jordan told The Boston Globe earlier this week.

“She was an experienced hiker for summer conditions. Not so much in winter,” Sotelo’s mother, Olivera, told the Globe, noting that she only had “four or five” mountains left to check off her list.

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Sotelo was a sophomore at Vanderbilt University majoring in biochemistry and chemical biology, according to The Vanderbilt Hustler, the Nashville school’s student newspaper. She reportedly was visiting New Hampshire with her mother on her Thanksgiving break.

Fish and Game conservation officers were assisted in the search by the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team, Mountain Rescue Service, Lakes Region Search and Rescue, Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team, New England K-9, NH Army National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and White Mountain National Forest. AT&T First Net and New Hampshire Homeland Security & Emergency Management also supported the search.

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