Northfield man’s body recovered NH Fish and Game warns against polar plunging

CONCORD – As the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department continues to warn about dangers associated with jumping into icy water, emergency workers retrieved the body of a 32-year-old Northfield man presumed to have been taking part in a polar plunge on the evening of April 14.

On April 21, the body of Aaron Hoyt was found in the Smith River, about a half mile downstream of Profile Falls in Bristol, the spot where he jumped in.

According to the Concord Monitor, Bristol Fire Chief Steve Yannuzzi said a woman at the scene first reported the disappearance shortly before 8 p.m. April 14. She indicated that she, the man and a third person had been participating in a “polar plunge,” a social media-driven fad enticing teens to jump into ponds and rivers.

Responding to the polar plunge dare, young people are jumping, dressed only in summer swimwear and without life vests, into frigid New Hampshire lakes and ponds, as well as fast-flowing rivers and streams coursing with snow melt, according to Fish and Game.

“An insidious aspect of the trend is that participating youth must dare five other youth to take part, creating a fast-growing phenomenon with enormous potential for tragic outcomes,” according to a department press release.

Recent information received by the Fish and Game Department indicated that last week, a large number of North Country youth had reportedly made plans to jump into the raging Connecticut River.

“Right now, the Connecticut River is boiling with fast, high water from the spring snow melt, with chunks of ice and debris coursing past,” Fish and Game said.

“We are strongly urging youth not to participate, and we are asking families and community members to stay alert,” said Conservation Officer and Fish and Game Dive Team Member Glenn Lucas. “The potential for life-
threatening incidents is huge.”

Lucas noted that even when ice is not visible on top of the water, there can be ice below that can easily cause a slip into dangerous fast-moving water. In one recent incident recorded on Facebook, two New Hampshire teenage girls jumped into Garland Brook in Lancaster, slipped on the ice and were nearly swept into the current without life jackets.

Locally, Souhegan High School and Hollis Brookline High School administration issued warnings about the trend, urging students not to participate. According to the New Hampshire Marine Patrol, immersion in cold water can quickly make even a good swimmer helpless within minutes. Even short amounts of time exposed to frigid water can make hypothermia worse and a person experiencing hypothermia while in the water is at a greater risk of injury or drowning.