Hikers Lost at Chatfield Hollow State Park Thanksgiving Weekend

A Madison mother and son, along with their dog, lost their way in the park Saturday after sunset.


At approximately 5:22 p.m., the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company (KVFC) was dispatched to Chatfield Hollow State Park for a report of two, uninjured lost hikers. 

A Madison mother, her 12-year-old son and their dog began hiking in the park around 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Once darkness set in, they were unable to find their way back out of the park to their vehicle, which was parked at the main gate. 

The KVFC responded with 3 trucks and 15 personnel to the scene. And, with the assistance of our regional dispatch center (Valley Shore Emergency Communications, Inc) based at Troop F in Westbrook, we maintained cell phone contact with the caller to assist in identifying their location. 

Valley Shore was also able to provide us with GPS coordinates from the cell phone and after speaking directly with the caller, the KVFC sent two crews into the woods on opposite ends of the "Red" trail with flashlights, portable radios and a thermal imaging camera to search for the hikers. 

After approximately 45 minutes of searching, a KVFC crew located the hikers.  Both hikers were immediately assessed and then assisted out of the woods to the KVFC Command Post near the covered bridge. Both were reunited with their husband / father, assessed by the Killingworth Ambulance Association and released with no injuries.  

The KVFC was assisted in the search by both the DEEP and CSP. 

Fortunately, there was a positive outcome but this is a timely reminder as to how quickly darkness sets in. Hikers should plan their hikes accordingly, leaving ample time to complete their hike well before dark. You should also always have a cell phone with you as this not only allows you to call for help but most cell phones' locations can be tracked by Valley Shore when you call 9-1-1. 

It is also important to remain stationary and calm should you become disoriented - doing so will make it easier for rescuers to find you in a time of emergency. Lastly, be sure to let someone know of your plans and when you expect to return so should you be overdue they can call for help on your behalf.  

Killingworth is fortunate to have many miles of hiking trails available between Chatfield Hollow, Parmelee Farms and other public and private areas. My purpose for sharing this information is to educate the public to hopefully prevent something like this from happening again.   

Submitted by Dick Bauer, Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. Fire Chief 

Observor November 26, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Chief Bauer's comments are on the mark if you're lost, but it is better to not get lost or to know how to take care of yourself. Had these people had a map and compass and known how to use them they would have found their own way out. Maps of all State Parks and Forests can be printed on the DEEP website. An excellent compass can be bought for under $20.00. A compass keeps you from wandering in circles and a map would have shown that the whole park is north of Route 80. Thus moving in a generally southward direction, even cross country, would have eventually led them to the highway. More likely, though, had they moved in a consistent direction they would have crossed a marked trail and, using the map, would have been able to follow it out. As the Boy Scouts say: Be Prepared.
Robin Hood November 29, 2012 at 02:52 PM
It gets dark at 4:30, starting a hike at 4 would require headlamps or stay on the paved road. It's kind of hard to be lost in Chatfield Hollow, it's not that big and a 5 minute walk in any one direction will lead you out somewhere. Before going on a hike you should review and have a copy of the map of the trails, as stated you can get them online at the DEEP site, they rarely have them at the parks anymore, pick a route and figure how long it is, they are marked for distance. Know the weather that is coming by going on line to intellicast. Know when the sunset and sunrise is. If it's not a short walk bring water and snacks or a lunch. I always pack a snake bite and first aid kit and mace.


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