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Emily Sotelo: A death not in vain

 My background is quite diverse. I have worked as a Research Engineer, Game Warden, Police Lt./Investigator and Health Coach. I write about things I know and give advice to those that are willing to listen. Emily Sotelo's tragic-but-preventable death from exposure on Mt. Lafayette need not be in vain.

I have spent most of my life as an outdoorsman - in all kinds of weather conditions. The following was simply one excursion:

Linda Lane (to me): "Are we in trouble?"
Tom Lane: "We could be!"

My wife and I were hiking in the White Mountains to stay overnight in Madison Springs Hut. The weather started out fairly decent for a late-summer hike, but at the higher elevation, things turned bad. The temperature dropped significantly - the cold rain started - and the high winds were blowing the rain sideways.

All four of us opened our-well-stocked packs and put on Gortex parkas over the down vests and fleece jackets. But the weather was now bad enough that, even well equipped, I mentally worked out an alternate plan if we were unable to make it to the shelter of the hut.

We did make our destination, but search parties quickly went out in search of a number of individuals who were scheduled to be at the hut - but had not yet arrived. All arrived in resonable shape, and proper preparation prevailed in their favor.

A few have advised me to not write further on the Sotelo tragedy, but my background tells me otherwise. Lives are lost too often in the Whites, and most are due to foolishness and recklessness on the part of the victims. To be silent is to allow this 19-year-old lady to die in vain. Emily is not the only victim. The family and friends she leaves behind are also victims in the tragedy.

The warnings from New Hampshire Fish and Game on the dangers of hiking in the Whites need to be followed. Emily Sotelo had ZERO chance of completing her planned excursion in truly horrible weather conditions - thus the puzzled reaction by so many knowledgeable readers of her plight. Let's hope the warnings by NH Fish & Game are heeded - and followed.


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