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Man Presumed Dead After ‘Polar Plunge’ In NH

By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV
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MANCHESTER, NH (CBS) – Videos are emerging online showing the “polar plunge dare” in which young adults challenge each other to jump into frigid waters and record their escapades for all to see.

“I got called out by one of my friends,” said Angelita Colon, a Manchester high school student, who took the plunge. “It was fun.”

State officials say the polar plunge challenge is spreading over social media.

32-year-old Aaron Hoyt is believed to have drowned at Profile Falls in Bristol, New Hampshire on Monday. Investigators don’t think he was dared but do believe his jump was part of a polar plunge. He was with his fiancee and a friend when he jumped off a rock and got swept away in the Smith River.

“They attempted to do a self-rescue by running down the river after him,” said Lt. James Kneeland with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

But Hoyt did not resurface.

“We believe Hoyt was aware of the Polar Plunge trend, and his likely death from this incident is a tragic reminder of just how dangerous actions such as those promoted by that trend can be,” said Kneeland.

Family members tell WBZ-TV Hoyt served in the U.S. Army and was currently working at a local CVS store.

A helicopter was used to help search today, but the search in the water has been called off for now.

It’s just too dangerous for divers.

The water level went up about 12 feet yesterday, and is expected to rise another 14 feet today from all the snow melt and rain.

“Obviously I don’t see the necessity to go in the water this time of year,” said Kneeland. “You’re putting yourselves at risk. You’re putting rescuers at risk.”

Tweets like “Just got called out for the #polar plunge” and “challenge accepted. Almost died. #polar plunge” are fueling the polar plunge dare according to state officials who put out a warning about the issue Monday, just hours before Hoyt’s fateful jump.

“I got called out,” said Manchester teenager McGyver Reilly. “I didn’t do it.”

Austin McKinley says he didn’t do it either.

“It’s pretty big,” said McKinley. “It’s all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, stuff like that.”

Fish and Game officials hope at the very least the presumed death of Aaron Hoyt will keep people from any more polar plunges.

They say he was an experienced swimmer and was not wearing a life jacket.

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