The body of a 19-year-old Westford, Massachusetts, woman, who was reported missing since departing on a hike up a New Hampshire White Mountains trail Sunday, was discovered deceased on the mountain range late Wednesday morning — what was supposed to be her 20th birthday.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Officials discovered the deceased body of Emily Sotelo, 19-year-old Westford woman, after a three-day search that concluded late Wednesday morning, officials wrote in a statement.
Authorities said Sotelo arrived at the Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia on Sunday morning. She intended to hike through the Mount Lafayette, Haystack and Flume routes.
Officials told Boston Globe reporters that Sotelo’s goal was to reach the summit of every 4,000-foot peak in New Hampshire before she turned 20 on Wednesday. However, the Westford woman’s family grew concerned and notified authorities when she didn’t return at a pre-planned time.
Fish and Game officers began their search for Sotelo on the Franconia Ridge mountain range Sunday evening. Searchers were hampered by extremely cold weather conditions: high winds, cold temperatures, and blowing snow. Some searchers encountered snow that reached up to their waist in certain areas of the mountain, officials added.
Officials said Sotelo wasn’t prepared for Sunday’s harsh weather conditions.
Authorities spent the next two days looking for Sotelo, and on Tuesday afternoon, tracks and items belonging to Sotelo were located at the headwaters of Lafayette Brook.
Plans were developed to concentrate the search effort in the Lafayette Brook area on Wednesday. With the assistance of a total of 25 ground searchers, officers were able to locate Sotelo’s body on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. A New Hampshire Army National Guard helicopter assisted in transporting Sotelo’s body to the Cannon Mountain Ski Area.
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