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 dhimsel@cabinet.com.