BOSTON (CBS) – Family members are searching for answers after a couple died while hiking in Acadia National Park. The cousin of 28-year-old Rutland, Massachusetts native Wayne Beckford still wants to know, “why was he out there?” Pauline Leslie says Beckford wasn’t an experienced hiker, and isn’t sure why he would be on a trail. “He doesn’t know how to hike,” Leslie says.
Beckford was visiting the park with girlfriend, 30-year-old Cassandra Caceres. The two arrived Tuesday and were last heard from Thursday when Caceres told a family member that the couple had planned to hike Mt. Cadillac. When the couple failed to check out of their hotel Friday afternoon, a search helicopter from Cape Cod was sent out, but could not find them. The following morning, a search team on the ground located their bodies about 100 feet down an icy cliff.READ MORE: Man Stabbed After Apparent Road Rage Incident In Cambridge
After their deaths, park officials are reminding people about the dangers of hiking in the spring. Park Interpretive Media Specialist Jay Elhard told WABI that visitors should look at the weather, their planned route, equipment, and fitness level to evaluate their trip and be highly aware of their personal risk.READ MORE: 'It's Peace Of Mind': Teachers Receive COVID Vaccine Booster Shots In Boston
”Spring fever can be a little bit dicey in Acadia, especially on the premier trails that we have that are a challenge to do even in dry weather in the peak of summer,” Elhard said. “It’s really still very wet up there, and wet conditions on granite are extraordinarily slick. Ice grippers aren’t going to help you with that necessarily. It’s really is imperative that visitors take the time to think things through first before they embark on some of these trails.”
Beckford was the father to two young children. A third passed away in 2014, and it was his wish to be buried next to her someday. His cousin, Pauline Leslie, says it will be a major expense to get his body back to Massachusetts. “I was told that they will have to pay $4,000 just to bring the body back from Maine to here,” Leslie says.MORE NEWS: Kim Janey Endorses Michelle Wu In Boston Mayoral Race
A GoFundMe has been set up for Beckford’s family to help pay for the funeral costs. So far, more than $10,000 has been raised.