You OK?-Great Here's Your Rescue Bill-A Look at Another Weird Law

Well here's another weird law. In April of this year, young Scott Mason suffered an ankle injury while climbing Mount Washington. Relying on skills honed as a scout, he survived for three days on the mountain. He was rescued by officers from several agencies after a successful search and rescue effort. Sounds like a happy ending right? Not so fast. Fox News reports that the state is trying to collect $25,000 from young Scott to recover what are allegedly the cost of rescuing him. A story chronicling Mr. Mason's survival and the ensuing efforts by the state of New Hampshire to charge him money for it are below:


Here's the weird law that's at issue here: RSA 206:26-bb, with which the Fish and Game Department is reportedly trying to extract $25,000 from Scott Mason:

RSA 206:26-bb (2009)

206:26-bb Search and Rescue Response Expenses; Recovery.
I. Notwithstanding RSA 153-A:24, any person determined by the department to have acted negligently in requiring a search and rescue response by the department shall be liable to the department for the reasonable cost of the department's expenses for such search and rescue response. The executive director shall bill the responsible person for such costs. Payment shall be made to the department within 30 days after the receipt of the bill, or by some other date determined by the executive director. If any person shall fail or refuse to pay the costs by the required date, the department may pursue payment by legal action, or by settlement or compromise, and the responsible person shall be liable for interest from the date that the bill is due and for legal fees and costs incurred by the department in obtaining and enforcing judgment under this paragraph. All amounts recovered, less the costs of collection and any percentage due pursuant to RSA 7:15-a, IV(b), shall be paid into the fish and game search and rescue fund established in RSA 206:42.

II. If any person fails to make payment under paragraph I, the executive director of the fish and game department may:

(a) Order any license, permit, or tag issued by the fish and game department to be suspended or revoked, after due hearing.

(b) Notify the commissioner of the department of health and human services of such nonpayment. The nonpayment shall constitute cause for revocation of any license or certification issued by the commissioner pursuant to RSA 126-A:20 and RSA 151:7.

(c) Notify the director of motor vehicles of such nonpayment and request suspension of the person's driver's license pursuant to RSA 263:56.

Yikes! Not even legally old enough to sign a contract, but deemed to be responsible for a $25,000 bill for services he never asked for.

Have a safe weekend,

Mark Stevens

5 Manor Parkway
Salem, NH 03079





  1. We should have left him to die?

  2. Actually Michael no one is suggesting that you should have "left him to die". It is rather shocking though to most people that a 17 year old would receive a bill for $25,000.00 from the state (and a demand for payment within 30 days or else) for what would seem to many, if not most, people to be a public service. So while no one here is suggesting that you should have "left him to die", perhaps there was another viable option like rescuing him and wishing him well without billing him for $25,000.00.
    All the best,

  3. I was merely responding to your statement that they were services he never asked for. The alternative seems to be to ignore the situation, i.e. leave him to his own devices which would ultimately result in his death. The main point of the legislation is that people take undue risks with the assumption that the "government" will bail them out if anything goes wrong. As a NH taxpayer, are you happy to foot the bill for an irresponsible minor?