Body of Missing 20-Year-Old Hiker Located in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

by Amy Myers
Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

The search for a 20-year-old missing hiker in the White Mountains of New Hampshire has come to a tragic end as officials have discovered her remains. On Sunday, Emily Sotelo embarked on a solo hike near Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia. She intended to complete the route of Mount Lafayette, Haystack and Flume. When she didn’t return later that day, authorities quickly launched a search, as temperatures would reach below-freezing levels that night.

Unfortunately, search teams located the 20-year-old missing hiker’s body on the northwest side of Mount Lafayette. Three teams set out to scour the region, but the weather was working against them. The area where Sotelo was hiking experienced zero-degree temperatures and 30 to 40-mph winds. These are treacherous conditions for even the most skilled adventurers.

“Due to the harsh weather conditions a search commenced Sunday evening and [through] the night. Searchers were hampered by high winds, cold temperatures and blowing snow,” New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division and Operation Game Thief said in a statement Wednesday.

Authorities finally located the missing hiker’s tracks and some of her belongings at the headwaters of Lafayette Brook on Tuesday. They found her body the following morning.

According to law enforcement, a New Hampshire Army National Guard helicopter helped extract Sotelo’s body from the area. The aerial team lifted her remains to Cannon Mountain Ski Area. Authorities have yet to reveal Sotelo’s cause of death.

New Hampshire Locals Feared the Worst For the Missing Hiker

Prior to the discovery of Sotelo’s remains, New Hampshire locals voiced their concerns regarding the missing hiker’s overnight preparation. The initial report shared that at the time of her departure, the 20-year-old was wearing a brown jacket and exercise pants. It’s not clear if she had any additional layers or emergency gear on her body.

“As someone who lives where she’s lost, I can assure you that the trails are in constant use no matter the weather. Too often, people don’t check the mountain forecasts and are woefully unprepared. From the clothing description it seems this may be the case,” one person wrote in the comments of the NH Fish and Game’s Facebook post.

Another concurred, “Yea sorry I don’t think leggings and a brown jacket are going to cut it this time of year. Praying for a safe recovery. But mother natures no joke in the white mountains.”