March 7, 2013

Officials undecided on whether lost Sugarloaf skier should pay for rescue

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

It remained unclear Thursday whether the Maine Warden Service will charge the family of Nicholas Joy for the search that ended when Joy was found Tuesday, nearly 36 hours after he got lost while skiing on Sugarloaf Mountain.

click image to enlarge

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

Staff photo by David Leaming

Cpl. John MacDonald, spokesman for the warden service, said he didn't know whether Joy's family would be billed for the rescue effort.

He said that the final cost for the search is likely to be closer to $15,000 than the initial $10,000 estimate, once staff overtime, fuel and equipment costs are factored in.

MacDonald released a statement that included additional details of the incident, including information from an interview with Joy. The statement did not say whether Joy left the ski area accidentally or intentionally.

Earlier Thursday, MacDonald said it appeared that Joy left Sugarloaf unintentionally.

"I don't think the facts are taking us away from his legitimately being lost," he said.

Sugarloaf has no plans to charge Joy for the cost the company incurred during the search, said Ethan Austin, a company spokesman.

"He says he didn't intend to go out of bounds, and we'll take him at his word," Austin said. "We're just happy that he made it back to his family OK."

On Tuesday, Lt. Kevin Adam of the warden service said it was unlikely that Joy would be charged because he didn't appear to have met the threshold, set by state law, of having behaved recklessly or negligently.

Joy, a 17-year-old high school senior from Medford, Mass., has made no public statements about whether he skied outside the resort's boundary intentionally.

MacDonald said Joy "skied quite some time before realizing he was too far to get back and had lost his way."

MacDonald said that he thought Joy abandoned his skis and poles before building a shelter in the snow.

"It's very steep terrain, and it was probably cumbersome for him to keep them," MacDonald said.

The warden service had about 25 to 30 people involved in the search. The rest of the nearly 100 searchers were volunteers and members of other law enforcement agencies.

MacDonald said that the Warden Service routinely compiles the cost of each search it conducts, and that other agencies will act independently in deciding whether to attempt to assess Joy for their costs.

 

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at
mhhetling@centralmaine.com

 

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