March 6, 2013

Lost skier in Maine: 'I'm OK, I'm just tired'

After two frigid nights alone on Sugarloaf, and amid a massive search effort, teenager Nicholas Joy follows tracks to where a snowmobiler finds him.

By Kaitlin Schroeder, Matt Hongoltz-Hetling and Amy Calder / Morning Sentinel

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Missing skier Nicholas Joy, 17, of Medford, Mass., is led to an ambulance Tuesday morning after spending two nights lost near the Sugaloaf ski area.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Shortly before 3 p.m., Donna Joy walked out of the hospital with a handful of family members, on her way to get the cheeseburger and fries her son had requested.

"He hasn't eaten for two days, so how would you feel?" she said.

She said Nicholas was "doing really good" and had no frostbite or other injuries. She said her son would spend Tuesday night at the hospital.

She said the period when he was missing had taken an emotional toll on her. "It was very, very hard."


Diller, Sugarloaf's manager, said officials were still interviewing Joy on Tuesday and retracing his route to piece together what happened and where.

The Maine Warden Service said visibility on the mountain was poor when Joy got lost on Sunday at about 12:40 p.m.

Resort officials said he was last seen at the top of the Binder trail, near Sugarloaf's 4,237-foot summit.

The teenager apparently built the snow shelter late Sunday, after realizing he couldn't get back to the trail, said Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service.

Adam said Joy built a small snow cave for shelter, near the snowmobile trail where he was found. He drank water from snow and Carrabassett Stream while he was lost.

On Monday, searchers went near the area where Joy had his shelter, and Joy later told rescuers that he had heard snowmobile engines.

Diller said the search expanded Tuesday to include Navy SEALs, Marines, border patrol and mountain rescue service crews, totaling more than 80 searchers. At times, they worked in zero visibility, Adam said.

On Monday, Joy "made some directional sampling searches" from his shelter, looking for help, said the warden service.

"On Tuesday, Joy walked in the direction of the snowmobile noise he heard the previous day. While walking, he found snowshoe tracks left by searchers," according to a release from the warden service. "He followed the snowshoe tracks to Caribou Pond Road, where he was found by Joseph Paul."

Paul, from Warwick, Mass., was cruising around on his snowmobile to help look for Joy when he came upon the boy at 9 a.m.

Paul was unavailable for comment after a brief interview shortly after he brought Joy to the rescuers.

His wife, Colleen Paul, said from their home Tuesday night that he is a captain in the Warwick Fire Department and owns a home improvement business.

She said her husband, who is 44, has been involved in search-and-rescue missions in Massachusetts.

He called her Tuesday morning, after she heard on the radio that a skier was lost on Sugarloaf.

"I said, 'You didn't find that missing skier, did you?'

"He said, 'Yes,' and I asked if the boy was OK. He said (Joy) was relieved and he was hungry."

The Pauls own a cabin in Salem, Maine, and Joseph Paul drove to Maine on Monday to go snowmobiling because business was slow at his one-man company and it's the end of the snowmobiling season, said his wife.


Adam said searchers were concerned that Joy had hit a tree and was lying injured on the mountain. Wardens announced Monday that the search was at a critical stage because of the elements – temperatures had dipped into the 20s and fresh snow had wiped away any tracks left by Joy at the top of the mountain.

He said Joy demonstrated good survival techniques.

"Obviously, he made some errors getting off the trail, but he used his head and made some very good decisions," Adam said.

Searchers were jubilant when Joy was found. Many shook their heads in relief and smiled.

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Additional Photos

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Donna Joy becomes emotional as she reflects on the two days her son Nicolas Joy, 17, was missing on Sugarloaf Mountain as she speaks to media at the Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington on Tuesday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Bob Joy, father of missing skier Nicholas Joy, arrives at the site where his son was brought out by snowmobile Tuesday morning. At left is Carrabassett Valley police officer Randy Walker.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Nicholas Joy

Photo courtesy of Maine Warden Service

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Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Joy is surrounded by game wardens and others who brought him out of the woods Tuesday. At right is Joseph Paul who picked up Joy on the snowmobile and at left is Carrabassett Valley police chief Mark Lopez.

Staff photo by David Leaming


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