Missing hiker turns up safely
AMHERST – Local police, along with some kindhearted neighbors, responded to a popular conservation area on Sunday, Aug. 21, to help locate a missing elderly hiker.
New Hampshire Fish and Game reported Sharon Beckley, 80, of Amherst, was hiking with her husband, Bruce Beckley, 85, in the Grater Woods and Pond Parish conservation areas that comprise 270 acres in Amherst and Merrimack. The agency noted Sharon Beckley was hiking ahead of and just out of sight of her husband when she became separated from him.
"Her legs go faster than mine," Bruce Beckley said Monday. "She mistook a turn heading over towards the Merrimack Middle School and instead continued on to our house."
After realizing that his wife wasn’t at their predetermined destination at the Grater Road trailhead, Bruce Beckley contacted the Amherst Police Department.
Lt. Denise Roy, of the Merrimack Police Department, said the pair had headed out for their walk at about 1 p.m., and officers received a call from Amherst police about 5:40 p.m. Officials became concerned as night drew closer, along with its predicted rainfall.
Roy said that as the department readied off-road vehicles and worked with mobilized searchers from various state agencies, Merrimack Patrolman Mike Lambert, who was checking entrances to the trail system, saw Sharon Beckley emerge from the woods.
"I was really impressed," Bruce Beckley said. "Within five minutes of calling Amherst police, two officers arrived. Shortly thereafter, Chief (Mark) Reams showed up."
Beckley added that Fish and Game responded with conservation officers and a search dog and that New Hampshire State Police dispatched officers, as well. In the meantime, Roy said, neighbors who had gotten wind of the impending search from a Nixle alert had gathered near the middle school to help find the woman.
Beckley, an active hiker with his wife, said Monday he was thankful for the willingness from locals to help, calling it "a great neighborhood."
Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.