McCarthy’s sister had taken the cog railway upstairs and was there to take pictures of the happy couple. They took shelter from the cold at the nearby gift shop and FaceTimed their family members with the exciting news.
“We told everyone” Geary recalled on Monday.
But on Mount Washington, a rough climb in the best of circumstances, rapidly changing weather patterns can create treacherous conditions.
About two miles into their descent, the couple and McCarthy’s sister, Kelli, encountered a harrowing and ultimately heartbreaking situation Scene – A group of hikers attempting to revive a man who is lying unconscious on the ground near the junction of Jewell and Gulfside trails.
Two groups of hikers, totaling four adults and three children, said they found the man, later identified as John R. Quick Jr., 65, of Missouri, with a broken arm and a laceration to the head, Geary said. He didn’t seem to have a pulse. His dog, a German shepherd mix, lay beside him and refused to leave his side.
Two men had immediately started CPR – one was giving chest compressions and the other was giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – while the two younger children huddled together to stay warm, far enough away that they couldn’t see .
“The couple from Canada told us they saw him on the way upstairs and spoke to him and said he looked perfectly healthy like he was fine,” Geary said. “He was in good spirits. He came down the mountain.”
The hikers found Quick around 1:15 p.m. and immediately called 911, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. who made a search and rescue call.
By that time, temperatures had dropped to over 30 degrees, winds were whipping at about 50 miles per hour and hail was continuing to fall, Geary said. Though both he and his fiancee were prepared, adorned in layers and treaded boots, Kelli McCarthy wasn’t, forced to do the hike unexpectedly after missing the train.
But McCarthy, who recently got certified in CPR for her job at Salem State University, immediately jumped into the rotation in hopes of saving Quick.
“Having just taken the class, I knew I couldn’t walk by without trying to do whatever I could to help,” McCarthy, 22, said via text message. “The decision to step in and do CPR wasn’t a decision for me, I knew in that moment I had to try.”
Officials said the “Good Samaritan walkers performed CPR for 40 minutes” before it became clear Quick had died. They placed a blanket over him, Geary said, but made sure his light green shirt was uncovered so recovery personnel could find him more easily.
At least three people have died while hiking or driving an SUV in the forest so far this year, according to state records.
As conditions became increasingly dangerous, Geary and the McCarthys decided there was “no point” in staying longer. Using treats given to them by the Canadian couple, who themselves had a large German shepherd, the three were able to lure the dog away from Quick’s side. As Geary led him down the trail, the dog initially tugged on the leash, trying to get back to his owner.
“The hike got a lot harder on the way down, mostly because I think the mood in general has kind of dropped,” Geary said. “Michaela’s sister, Kelli, has definitely been a little quiet processing the fact that we had to leave someone she was trying to save.”
Two groups of Search and rescue workers used a variety of tactics to reach Quick and the walkers who came to his aid. One rode the cog railway up and hiked over the mountain, while another used the highway and hiked down, officials said.
The volunteers then carried Quick’s body about a mile to the cog railway, where it was placed in a wagon and taken to the base. An empty train was used to take the search members up the mountain, just above the tree line. It then went upstairs and later carried his body down the mountain to a parking lot, where the group was met by someone from a local funeral home.
When Geary and the McCarthys hit the ground running, it “didn’t feel right to smile or take pictures” to celebrate the engagement, Geary said. Geary gave the dog, who he described as friendly and gentle, to a ranger. It has been placed in a shelter until it can be reunited with family members, officials said.
They stopped for some time to rest their legs, shed their heavy gear and headed back to their hotel. The oddness of the day, turning from deep joy to tragedy in a matter of hours, weighed heavily on her mind. Likewise, the undisputed friendliness of the hikers.
“I can’t really put into words how crazy it was to see a group of people – three groups of people who don’t even know each other and are from different corners of the world – helping someone they have no idea who it is is is and what his health was like, but I did it anyway,” Geary said.