Rising river limits search for body of man presumed drowned in Bristol

CONCORD — The search for the 32-year-old Northfield man who is presumed drowned in the Smith River in Bristol, following a leap into its icy waters on Monday evening is on hold because of rising water, N.H. Fish & Game officials said Wednesday.

On Monday evening the search for Arron Hoyt began, coordinated by N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officers, with assistance from the Bristol Fire and Police and New Hampton Fire departments. On Tuesday, the recovery effort continued by boat, with Fish and Game, Bristol Police and Marine Patrol officers participating.

Because of quickly rising waters, Wednesday's search was limited to aerial surveys by an Army National Guard helicopter flying over the river.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing water level data, such as flow and water height.

"The river has risen nine feet from yesterday to this morning, and is projected to rise another 14 feet before Thursday morning," said N.H. Fish and Game Lt. James Kneeland. "We will have to take it day by day until workable, safe conditions allow us to get back on the river."

Hoyt is presumed drowned after being observed by two witnesses jumping into the Smith River off a 12 foot high ledge outcropping near Profile Falls approximately 7:30 on Monday evening. He was attired in swim trunks, without a life vest. He was swept downriver and last seen with his head above water, trying to make his way toward shore.

While there is no specific evidence linking Hoyt's actions to a dare challenge related to the "Polar Plunge" Facebook fad, "We believe Hoyt was aware of the Polar Plunge trend, and his likely death from this incident is a tragic reminder of just how dangerous actions such as those promoted by that trend can be," said Kneeland.

"Anyone considering going near any body of water this time of year should take standard precautions such as wearing a life jacket," Kneeland continued. "We are urging the public to use caution around all waterbodies until warmer temperatures — both air and water — arrive, and water levels return to normal. Please give the spring runoff a chance to occur before planning your water activities."

Updates on the search will be posted at http://www.wildnh.com.