New Hampshire Fish and Game said they have found a body closely matching the description of missing hiker Claire Marie Cocuzzo, 64, of Westwood, Massachusetts.
The body was found at 10:47 a.m. Friday along the Gale River in Bethlehem, officials said. Positive identification will be made by the New Hampshire Medical Examiner pending tests to confirm the identity.
A family member had reported Cocuzzo missing when she did not return from a planned hike in the White Mountain National Forest. Her planned hike had been from Mount Garfield Trailhead to Bond Cliff and back, which is about 26 miles. She was expected to be gone from Oct. 5 through Oct. 10.
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On Thursday, ground crews from New Hampshire Fish and Game and the Appalachian Mountain Club searched the tent sites Cocuzzo had planned to stay at. An Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter also conducted an aerial search of the trails, cliffs and drainages in the area, but found no new evidence.
A tip came in through social media on Friday from hikers who said they had spotted someone they believed to be Cocuzzo staying at the Gale Head Hut atop Garfield Ridge on Sept. 29, a week earlier than she was scheduled to be there.
At that time, the state had received more than 30 inches of rain, making for treacherous conditions along hiking trails in the White Mountains. Officials said it is believed that Cocuzzo was swept away while crossing the swollen Gale River.
Participating in the search were New Hampshire Fish and Game, Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team and the U.S. Forest Service. The Grafton County Sheriff's Department and Bethlehem Police also provided support.