An 80-year-old hiker who was rescued trying to reach the summit of Mount Washington could end up footing the bill for the emergency services, New Hampshire officials said Tuesday, amid efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of the popular tourist destination. Authorities may even file criminal charges in the case, after two relatives left James Clark behind, Maj. David Walsh of the state's Fish and Game Department said. Walsh said, however, that he wasn't aware of anyone ever being charged criminally in a case like this and he could not say what the charges might be or even who might be charged. Clark was found Friday immobile in the fetal position with signs of hypothermia hours after telling his two grandsons to go on without him.
Clark was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and released Saturday. Mount Washington is notorious for its erratic weather, particularly its high winds. Clark didn't have the right clothing or gear to make the ascent in freezing rain, Lt. Mark Ober of Fish and Game says. As a result, the agency will likely recommend to the attorney general's office that Clark pay for the cost of his rescue, taking advantage of a law that allows the state to recoup rescue costs when it determines that a person acted negligently, the AP reports. Fish and Game has recommended that nine people be billed this year and 25 in 2018. Bills can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the number of people involved and the length of the search.
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