Update: Search widens for missing man
As of 2 p.m. Saturday, 72-year-old Hugh Armstrong remained missing and Lt. Jim Kneeland of the NH Fish and Game Department said the search had expanded as far north as Ellsworth and further eastward onto Stinson Mountain.
Helicopters were flying overhead in Rumney as teams of volunteers were assembling at Stinson Lake to further the search efforts. Kneeland, speaking at the command post on White Mountain Ranch, noted that, in addition to the contributions of various rescue agencies, there were at least six teams of volunteers, each with 12 to 15 individuals, who were helping to locate Armstrong. However, Kneeland said they still had no clues as to what might have happened to the visitor from North Carolina.
According to relatives, Armstrong awoke early on Wednesday and left Hawthorne Village where he was vacationing with his family about 6:30 a.m. He left a note saying he was planning to walk around the lake, about a five-mile trip, and would return about 9 a.m.
Kneeland said Friday that Armstrong, who had retired from IBM, is of sound mind and has some woods savvy.
“He’s grown up in and around the woods and has vacationed in New Hampshire before, just not in this area,” Kneeland said.
Kneeland said family members have some scouting background and that Armstrong has enough woods lore that he most likely would be able to build a shelter.
Kneeland said the National Forest Service sent employees to aid in the search and that members of the Pemi Searchand Rescue squad also joined in.
The teams searched local snowmobile and hiking trails with all-terrain vehicles about three miles out. Meanwhile, volunteers teamed up in groups of eight to 10 and did line searches of the woods on both sides of the Doe Town Road, sweeping all the way to the lake.
On Saturday, a NH State Police trooper overseeing a volunteer search of a nearby road said the searches were being carried out in a methodical, grid-by-grid manner throughout the entire area, not just close to the woods and trails where the hiker may have walked.
Dog teams with New England K-9 which uses air-scenting dogs searched late into the night Thursday after the NH State Police helicopter had aided in the search on Wednesday.
Kneeland noted that the Black Hawk helicopter can hover nearly in place for extended periods, making it especially useful in a search for a lost person.
The Grafton County Sheriff ’s Department has loaned its command post trailer to the effort and crews with the American Red Cross were providing food and water to searchers.
“I just really want to be able to bring some good news to this family,” Kneeland said on Friday.
Scott Bracci of Hebron convinced his friend, Tim Flanagan of Windham, who was vacationing on Newfound Lake, to join him in volunteering to help search for Armstrong.
“If I was lost, I would hope someone would help search for me,” Flanagan said Friday as he waited with other searchers for a pickup truck to bring them back to the command post at the end of Stinson Lake after completing a line search along Doe Town Road.
“I just wanted to help out. There is no excuse not to come up here and help look around,” said Bracci.
Both men said the woods they were searching were dense and the terrain rugged.
Armstrong is 5’4” tall and weighs 175 pounds. He has brown-gray hair and gray eyes and wears glasses. He is thought to be wearing a white Red Sox hat, a red or blue t-shirt, and shorts.
Anyone who saw Armstrong or has any information about his whereabouts is asked to call NH State Police Troop F barracks at 603-846-3333.