For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott J. Croteau (508) 368-7228 or (774) 418-5706
PRINCETON – Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. today recognized the life-saving actions of Princeton Firefighters, Wachusett Mountain employees, members of the Wachusett Ski Patrol and dispatchers from the Wachusett Regional Emergency Communications Center for rescuing two young skiers who were lost on Wachusett Mountain for hours during a nor’easter earlier this year.
The District Attorney’s Team Excellence and Merit – TEAM Award – was presented to the following rescuers for their efforts and actions during the March 2023 incident:
- Princeton Firefighter/EMT Jonathan Barry
- Princeton Fire Chief/EMT John D. Bennett
- Princeton Firefighter/EMT Christopher Bruning
- Princeton Fire Captain/EMT Philip Connors
- Princeton Firefighter Thomas Connors
- Princeton Firefighter/EMT Brian Henrich
- Princeton Firefighter/EMT Seamus Kelly
- Princeton Deputy Fire Chief/EMT Advanced Tim Kelly
- Princeton Firefighter David Richard
- Princeton Firefighter/EMT Sara Williams
- Wachusett Mountain Snow Cat Operators Jesse Goodnow and Shawn Freeman
- Mountain Vehicle Maintenance & Grooming Operations Manager Scott Goodnow
- Ski Patrol Director Kevin McDonald
- Wachusett Regional Emergency Communications Center Dispatcher Danielle Beland
- Wachusett Regional Emergency Communications Center Dispatcher Elizabeth Consiglio
- Wachusett Regional Emergency Communications Center Dispatcher Alice Ordung
- Wachusett Regional Emergency Communications Center Dispatcher Zavon Zayas-Colon
“Quick-thinking, teamwork and strategy by everyone involved made sure two boys got back home to their families that day,” Mr. Early said. “Under tough weather conditions and knowing the teens had been outside in the cold for hours, these first responders, dispatchers and mountain experts used all their knowledge and collaboration to save lives.”
On March 14, 2023, the two teenagers used the summit lift at Wachusett Mountain around 4:45 p.m. and skied down the closed roads of the mountain. A few hours later, around 7:30 p.m., a call came in from the boys saying they were lost.
The teens, both cold, also relayed to authorities that their cell phone was dying.
Princeton Fire and Rescue quickly headed to the mountain while coordinating resources and response with Wachusett Mountain staff and ski patrol. Firefighters had dispatchers ping the cell phone for the coordinates.
With nearly 3 feet of snow on some parts of the mountain during the nor’easter, firefighters were not going to be able to go off trail. The two boys were still talking to the authorities and were now saying they were tired and experiencing extreme chills.
Using snow cats to clear a path and snowmobiles to carry EMTs, rescue sleds, blankets and other gear, the first responders made it to the back side of the mountain. After going another two miles, the glow of skis stuck vertical in the snow could be seen by the firefighters. The teens were found in a remote area on the back of the mountain.
One boy was shivering uncontrollably and while he was not in hypothermia, he was close. The teens were taken down and to a nearby ambulance. They were both checked out and eventually went home with guardians.
They had been exposed to the elements for nearly four hours.
“First off, we would like to say that we are very honored to be recognized by the Worcester County District Attorney’s office. This is the duty we all signed up for and we don’t expect awards or accolades. We just want to keep the residents of Princeton and our visitors safe. All firefighters, EMS professionals and police officers enter these professions because of a personal calling, and a commitment to protect others even if it means putting ourselves in harm’s way,” Princeton Fire Chief John Bennett said. “We regularly conduct mountain and remote wildland rescues, but this rescue was complex as we were experiencing the worst of conditions in the late evening hours. Training, technology, and teamwork are what saved those two boys from a near fatal disaster on the evening of March 14th.”
The TEAM Award was created by Mr. Early in 2019 to recognize public safety employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Contact the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office at (508) 755-8601 to nominate someone for this award.