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A New Hampshire Hiker Fell to His Death While Snapping a Photo

An experienced 59-year-old hiker and Mount Washington Cog Railway engineer passed away after tumbling from a cliff in the White Mountains.

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A hiker fell 300 feet to his death on Saturday while taking pictures on top of New Hampshire’s Mt. Willard, New Hampshire Fish and Game said. 

According to officials, Joseph V. Eggleson, 59, was snapping photos near the edge of a cliff at about 10:30 a.m. when his wife heard him yell. She turned around just in time to see him tumbling down the face. Mountain Rescue Service members responded to the incident and were able to rappel down the cliff, reaching the fallen man at about 2:30 p.m. Eggleston was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials said that both he and his wife were equipped with essential winter hiking gear, including traction devices.

The number of photo-related deaths has been steadily on the rise. Over the past 13 years, at least 379 people have died while taking selfies across the globe. In 2017 alone, 107 people died while snapping photos of themselves. That includes a number of high-profile cases in the U.S.’s outdoor spaces, including the deaths of Meenakshi Moorthy and Vishnu Viswanath, a couple who apparently took a fatal tumble from Yosemite’s Taft Point in 2018 while posing for a photo. 

The White Mountains weren’t just where Eggleston went to play: They were his workplace, too. Eggleson worked as a steam engineer on the Mountain Washington Cog Railway for over 30 years, bringing guests to the summit on the train. 

The Mount Washington Cog Railway posted a tribute to Eggleston yesterday, saying: “Eggy, living gracefully with profound hearing loss since childhood, once said to us “where else could a deaf man fulfill his dream of running a steam locomotive?” His passion for The Cog was evident to anyone who ever shared a moment, or a shift, with him.

“Eggy’s warm smile and passion for what he did will always be remembered by those he touched,” added Train Master Andy Villaine in his own tribute. “I’m honored to have shared a cab with him. His home will always be in these mountains he loved.” 

Eggleston’s death is the latest of several fatal mountain incidents in the region. Last month, 20-year-old Emily Sotelo went hiking near Mount Lafayette; after she failed to return, rescuers located her body on the northwest side of Mount Lafayette. While her cause of death hasn’t been confirmed, officials speculated that she may have died of exposure in subzero temperatures. In October, a 57-year-old Massachusetts man died of a medical emergency while hiking in Lincoln. 

In September, Lt. Mark Ober of the New Hampshire Fish and Game told the Concord Monitor that summertime deaths had been high as well, placing some of the blame on hikers’ tendency to underestimate the mountains.

“There’s high usage, but I think a lot of these people just aren’t prepared or they don’t realize the physical exertion it takes to hike,” Ober said. “They think, ‘these are small mountains’ It’s hard work, and if their bodies are not used to it, [emergencies] are a function of that.”

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