The body of a college student who disappeared during a weekend hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains was found on Wednesday.
Emily Sotelo, from Westford, Mass., was found around 11 a.m. on Mount Lafayette in Franconia, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.
On Sunday morning, Sotelo was dropped off at a campground near Franconia Notch by her mom before dawn to complete a solo hike.
After she didn’t return by late afternoon, her mom contacted NHFG.
Using aircraft and scent-tracking dogs, more than a dozen search and rescue teams searched for Sotelo in the following days.
Tuesday afternoon, Lafayette Brook headquarters found tracks and items belonging to the missing woman. By that evening, authorities were working on recovery rather than rescue.
Army National Guard helicopters helped move her to Cannon Mountain after her body was found.
According to the Associated Press, Sotelo had planned to hike all 48 peaks above 4,000 feet in New Hampshire before she turned 20. She would have turned 20 on Wednesday, when her body was discovered.
As rescuers battled high winds, cold temperatures, and blowing snow, Sotelo was reportedly unprepared for the conditions, wearing a light jacket, hiking sneakers, and exercise pants over long underwear.
By Sunday evening, there were single digit temperatures, winds speeding up to 60 mph, and blowing snow, and she was not dressed appropriately. Fish and Game Maj. David Walsh told the AP that she ended up off trail because of those extreme conditions.
Sotelo’s family described her as an experienced hiker, but they said she did not have much experience hiking in the winter.
Her death should serve as a warning to all hikers, Walsh said, stressing the necessity to be prepared for the unexpected.
“Be aware of the weather conditions, dress accordingly, have extra clothes, food, water, a headlamp, a map, and a compass,” Walsh advised.
Her studies included biochemistry and chemical biology at Vanderbilt University, where she recently transferred from the College of William & Mary.