Rescuers locate drunken hiker

HOLLIS – A drunken hiker who prompted a large search-and-rescue operation was eventually found about 100 yards from civilization, a state Fish and Game officer said.

Robert Ferreira, of Ashland, Mass., was not far from bordering houses when he was found Sunday around 1 a.m., concluding a five-hour search, Fish and Game conservation officer Todd Szewczyk said.

Ferreira and companion Eric Korsak, of Hollis, got lost on conservation land that is roughly a 2-mile square area. The men started a hike off Hayden Road around 1:30 p.m. At around 3 p.m., they attended an outdoor party with a bonfire and drank alcohol, Szewczyk said.

They resumed hiking, but later, intending to return to the bonfire, were separated and got lost, Szewczyk said.

Korsak was able to find his way out around 9 p.m., but there was still no sign of Ferreira, Szewczyk said. At its peak, the search had 20 members of Hollis police and fire departments and Fish and Game looking for Ferreira. Firefighters searched the woods on all-terrain vehicles.

Ferreira was found at around 1 a.m., and acknowledged that he was intoxicated, Szewczyk said. Szewczyk said he didn’t know if Korsak was intoxicated when he was found.

“He was in good health and had no injuries,” Szewczyk said of Ferreira. “He was lucky the temperature was as high as it was.”

Emergency personnel, however, were concerned about the heavy rains that fell Saturday night, Szewczyk said.

“We obviously encourage people to not go hiking when consuming alcohol and to be familiar with the area . . . and to look at a weather report,” Szewczyk said.

Fish and Game will file a report to the attorney general’s office to determine if the men will face any criminal penalties, including the cost of the search, Szewczyk said.

The Telegraph sought information Saturday night from emergency respondents about the search. Police initially said they didn’t know if they were searching for anyone. Later in the evening, police said a search was ongoing but offered no further details.