NORTHFIELD — A young family is lucky to be warm and dry after their afternoon walk turned into a rescue from a swamp.
After searching for nearly an hour and a half, firefighters and police rescued a mother and her three children Wednesday evening after they wandered knee-deep into a swamp about a quarter mile from their home near Bay Hill Road and Turnpike Road.
The mother and children were mired in 2 or 3 feet of water and mud. All were wet and cold, and the children had lost shoes in the mud.
According to Michael Sitar, Chief of Tilton-Northfield Fire and EMS, the mother and her children, ages 11, 8 and 4, left home around 3:30 p.m., following a stream through a wooded area. As darkness fell, the woman realized they had lost their way. She called first her husband and then 911. At 6 p.m., Northfield Police Sargent Michael Hutchinson asked Tilton-Northfield Fire and EMS to mount a search.
Twenty minutes later, a joint operation was underway with three police officers, 11 firefighters, an engine, two ambulances and two off-road vehicles, assisted by several officers of the New Hampshire State Police, two K-9 units and dispatchers at the Belknap County Sheriff's Department.
Although the battery of woman's cell phone was failing, her call to 911 enabled dispatchers to plot GPS coordinates and locate the family. At 6:47 p.m., two firefighters and a police officer were deployed in the woods and five minutes later were speaking with the mother, but another 24 minutes passed before they reached the family.
Emergency personnel waded into the swamp and carried two of the children to safety. By 7:46 p.m., the mother and children, all without injuries, were escorted to an ambulance where their condition was checked and, when they chose not to be taken to hospital, they were released.
Capt. David Hall of the Tilton-Northfield Fire and EMS said that the incident demonstrates the importance of taking precautions when walking in the woods, especially near nightfall. He said someone should be informed where you are going and when you expect to return. He noted that the hunting season has opened and anyone in the woods should be wearing blaze orange or bright clothing.