Scott Mason, an eagle scout from Massachusetts, was praised in April after he spent three nights on Mount Washington in New Hampshire with a sprained ankle using his scout skills. New Hampshire officials, however, are now demanding payment of $25,000 for the rescue because he believe he was negligent in continuing on the height despite his injury. It appears that the “free” in “Live Free or Die” should not be read to literally.
Authorities say that Mason, 17, was not prepared for the hike and most importantly should have turned around when he hurt his ankle. Fish and Game Maj. Tim Acerno stated “When I twist my ankle, I turn around and come down. He kept going up.”
Seeking such a huge fine (the largest in the state’s history under a 9-year-old law allowing for fines for rescues caused by unreasonable conduct) seems a bit draconian in this case. These laws were originally designed to address the most reckless types of actions. I fail to see how this is so reckless and negligent to warrant such a fine. I understand that the state has been required to pay for 131 rescue missions at at cost of $175,320 but that is not a major expenditure — particularly when you consider the millions that the state gets from tourism. Rescues are a core governmental duty that should not be charged against citizens absent the most egregious circumstances.
For the full story, click here.