Lost New Jersey hiker was alone, without a cell phone
CUTTS GRANT, N.H. — A Brick lawyer who had been hiking alone remains missing after his gear was found in a remote area of New Hampshire's White Mountains.
Gregory Airiemma's brother Kenneth told New Jersey 101.5 that Gregory left on June 24 on a solo 30-mile, 10-day hiking trip without a cell phone.
"More often then not he would put together a game plan and go hiking. He was experienced and he felt comfortable hiking alone," Kenneth Airiemma said.
Kenneth Airiemma said his brother, who turns 64 in August, had hiked the White Mountains over a dozen times.
"He's president of the (Ocean County Group) of the Sierra Club. The outdoors was a very integral part of his lift," Kenneth Airiemma said as he drove back from New Hampshire. He said this trip was in "one of the most difficult areas to access in the White Mountains."
Gregory Airiemma was staying at a hostel in Bean's Grant and got a ride to the trail head in Crawford Notch, according to his brother. He successfully started his after meeting with some friends and talked about fishing in the Dry River.
Kenneth Airiemma said his brother ran into a severe thunderstorm with heavy wind and gusty winds in the White Mountains and never returned to the hostel, where he had a reservation.
Gregory Airiemma's significant other contacted the family when he didn't show up for a Sierra Club barbecue on July 5 in New Jersey.
Kenneth Airiemma said a woman hiking on July 14 noticed a camp site along a trail near the Dry River had not been touched since she first saw it a week earlier.
"Turned out his pill bottles were in the tent," he said. "It was certainly confirmed that it was his camp site."
New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department said the Dry River area is a very remote area that searchers must hike for four hours to get to in order to start their work. The area was also searched with a New Hampshire Air National Guard Blackhawk helicopter.
Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said 4.5 inches of rain fell that day, with golf ball-sized hail and reports of dozens of trees snapped or uprooted.
Kenneth Airiemma said his brother is self-employed as a lawyer and enjoys fossil hunting.
"During the Obama administration, they had something called Champions of Change. He was invited to Washington and received an award for his work as an activist on environmental issues. He was as guy who was involved in things that mattered to him more than he was as an attorney," he said.
New Jersey Sierra Club president Jeff Tittel said in a statement his group was "very troubled and concerned about Greg being missing for so long. The New Jersey Sierra Club is asking for anyone to join the search, especially experienced hikers in the area."
"If anyone has any information, please contact the New Hampshire Fish and Game or New Hampshire State Police. We have also reached out to the local Sierra Club in New Hampshire to help in the search, he said.
Tittel said he considers Greg Airiemma a friend, ally and confidant.
“Greg is one of the strongest voices in our club on climate change, sea level rise, and rebuilding after Sandy. There is not an issue on the coast that he hasn’t been involved in. When you look at Ocean County and you see open space you can see Greg’s work with the Sierra Club," Tittel said.
Another Airiemma brother, Ed, asked for any experienced hikers who would be able to spend one or more nights in the woods and assist with the search to call New Hampshire Fish and Game at 603-271-3361.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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