Glad you didn't break that ankle. Here, lemme break that back:
A plucky Eagle Scout who probably should get his own episode on the Discovery Channel’s “Survivorman” instead has been hit with a $25,234 rescue bill – after he lasted three days in wintry conditions with an injured ankle on Mount Washington.
The law in New Hampshire provides that the state may bill for the cost of a rescue if the person rescued was negligent. Scott Mason knew that he had twisted his ankle a bit, but he also knew he had good training. He knew he was leaving the trail he had intended to take, but he also thought he was taking a shortcut.
It's not immediately obvious to me that a reasonable person would always turn back under these conditions, especially if the sprain seemed minor and the way forward seemed navigable. But that's not how Maj. Tim Acerno sees it. He oversees revenue enhancement law enforcement for Fish and Game, who have given Mason "30 days to cough up the cash":
Mason was negligent in continuing up the mountain with an injury and veering off the marked path, Acerno said. Negligence, he said, is based on judging what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.
"When I twist my ankle, I turn around and come down. He kept going up," Acerno said.
On that judgment hinges a $25k fine, due in a month from a kid who managed to save his own bacon after getting lost in the woods of New Hampshire. It's not as if this Eagle Scout was a high-handed, fist-shaking loner setting out to survive on random roots and unrefined idealism. He just got lost.
And why's the fee so high?
Mason’s rescue was particularly expensive because the helicopters the state typically used were unavailable, and a helicopter from Maine had to be brought in, Acerno said.
Clearly, it's Mason's fault that Acerno's pool of whirlybirds isn't big enough. Maybe the $25,000.00 can serve as down payment on another one.