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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Sophomore Emily Sotelo reported missing after leaving for solo hike in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire State Police urges anyone with information about Sotelo’s whereabouts to contact its dispatch.
Zeppos+Tower+surrounded+by+fall+leaves%2C+captured+on+Oct.+24%2C+2022.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FClaire+Gatlin%29
Zeppos Tower surrounded by fall leaves, captured on Oct. 24, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Claire Gatlin)

UPDATE: Searchers located Emily Sotelo’s body on the northwest side of Mount Lafayette just after 10 a.m. CST on Nov. 23, per a news release by New Hampshire Fish and Game. Captain Michael Eastman of New Hampshire’s Fish and Game stated that she appeared to have died from exposure to high winds and cold temperatures.

Sophomore Emily Sotelo has been reported missing by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division and Operation Game Thief, an anti-poaching program. Sotelo failed to return from a planned solo hike in the White Mountains on Nov. 20. 

Approximately 20 search teams are currently looking for Sotelo as the area reaches near-zero temperatures. According to Captain Mike Eastman of New Hampshire Fish and Game, there is currently no indication of foul play.

“We still hang onto hope,” Colonel Kevin Jordan of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said in a Nov. 22 interview with The Boston Globe. “The good news is, the trail system is probably the most popular one in that section. There’s a lot of foot traffic there year-round.”

Sotelo is majoring in biochemistry and chemical biology in the College of Arts and Science. Her parents told WBUR News that Sotelo was an experienced hiker, but not in winter conditions. 

Vice Provost and Dean of Students G.L. Black notified the student body of Sotelo’s disappearance in a Nov. 22 email sent at approximately 4:30 p.m. CST.

“We hope Emily is found safe and are monitoring for any news of her welfare. We are in touch with her family members and have offered our support during this incredibly challenging time,” the statement reads. 

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division described Sotelo as 5’3” and 115 lbs with brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a brown jacket, exercise pants, thermal long johns and sneakers. Anyone with information about Sotelo’s whereabouts is urged to call the New Hampshire State Police Dispatch at 603-271-1170 or New Hampshire Fish and Game at 603-271-3361.

Sotelo, a resident of Westford, Massachusetts, was visiting New Hampshire with her mother for Thanksgiving break, which began on Nov. 19 for undergraduate students. According to MSN News, Sotelo was dropped off by her mother at the Lafayette Place Campground at the Franconia Notch State Park around 4 a.m. CST on Nov. 20 and has not been seen since. WMUR News reported that Sotelo intended to hike Mount Lafayette, Mount Haystack and Mount Flume as part of a goal to hike every 4,000-foot peak in New Hampshire before her 20th birthday on Nov. 23. 

Three search teams from the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team were initially sent out Sunday night after Sotelo did not return on time, per ABC News. The team noted that weather conditions had reached near zero temperatures with 30-40 mph winds and a chill factor of -30º F over the course of the search. On Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, searches continued with 60 ground searchers, K-9 crews, air support and incident command representing multiple governmental agencies and New Hampshire Search and Rescue.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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About the Contributors
Katherine Oung, Data Director
Katherine Oung ('25) is majoring in political science and computer science and minoring in data science in the College of Arts and Science. They are from West Palm Beach, Fla., and were previously Deputy News Editor and Managing Editor. Katherine enjoys working on freelance journalism projects and making incredibly specific Spotify playlists. They can be reached at [email protected].
Claire Gatlin, Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
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Rich
1 year ago

Situation is not good. So many factors working against her. She was not dressed for winter hiking (sneakers????), was hiking in the dark (did she have a headlamp?), lots of snow on the ground on very difficult trails, was not carrying proper gear, winds were high. I know these trails very well and on a good day they are extremely difficult. One slip/fall can lead to death by exposure. Or that exposure can lead to being disoriented.

If she’s still on the mountain, meaning something else didn’t happen to her like something sinister, unfortunately she’s probably dead. There is no way to survive that ridge dressed like she was.

A
Al Rudd
1 year ago

I really hope she is found. It’s not looking good, pray for her.