search and rescue

Inside the Law: Paying for your own search and rescue

June 19, 2018 - 3:30 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions​

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Should you be billed for the cost of your own search and rescue mission? 

Rather than going home after hiking through the mountains of New Hampshire, a man went to a luxury hotel to rest. Sounds good to me, except for the hiking the mountain first part. He texted his wife to tell her he wouldn't be home, but the text didn't go through so she called 911. 

He's now being charged for the cost of his own rescue.  

You can see why his wife would be furious. But does the state have the right to charge him because of a missed text? 

Yep. States that regularly deal with what authorities call "reckless adventuring" in state parks have started passing laws that allow the state to bill a person for the cost of his rescue, if the person's own conduct was reckless or negligent.  

Whether not being sure a text went through counts as reckless depends on whether you're asking the rescuer or him or his wife. 

Some states now have something akin to rescue insurance that outdoor enthusiasts can buy on a yearly basis to cover the nonmedical costs like helicopter flights of a rescue.  
The best advice is not to put yourself in danger. And try calling your wife. She worries.