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Death in Death Valley

1656 Views 4 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  hiker chick
On a sobering note:

Once a year, every February, EOC camping fools do thier annual Death Valley Camping Trip.
Winter is the safest time to visit DV but even then, being unprepared in Death Valley can get you killed.
We would never attempt a camping trip to DV during the summer but some people do and the results can be tragic.

Last week an 11 yr old boy succumed to the hostile elements of Death Valley while on an overnight camping trip with his mom and pet dog.
They obviously had no idea what they were getting themselves into and it cost a young boy his life.
This is the 3rd fatality in Death Valley National Park this year.

Here's the sad story:
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Terribly tragic. The mom is a nurse at a Las Vegas hospital.

Can't imagine camping in that area in August. And certainly not with just 3 gallons of water, no map, miles off a dirt road and with no other adults to help in case something goes wrong -- like your Jeep getting stuck.

Hopefully others will learn from this. Sounds like the mom was not very well equipped. Now she has to live the rest of her life without her son.


My E broke down in front of my house this morning. Was heading out for a hike at 6:30a, had Gidget and gear loaded and got a big fat nothing response when I turned the ignition (the key fob hadn't worked on the locks, either, but I'd assumed that was the fob battery). I'd left the headlights on the day before. Didn't want to wake anyone up at that hour so waited until another dog person came along to get a jumpstart.

If that had happened in a remote desert spot, how would you get a jumpstart? Let alone your car getting stuck up to its axle in a collapsed fox den.

Hope for the best. Plan for the worst. Gotta plan. Gotta prepare.

I'm stunned the Dachsund lived. And how much water did he drink? What a horrible position to be in.


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HC - I switched news links of this story to the Las Vegas Journal which is more detailed.

It appears that the dog was a Chihuahua and not a Dachsund.
Perhaps the smaller the dog the less water is needed for survival?

What baffles me is why after fixing her flat - didn't the mom just turn the jeep around and go back the way she came?
As a persons body core temp rises in excessive heat it effects brain function and that could lead to illogical and tragic decision making.

The story says that during the day air temps reached 119 degress.
Which means the ground surface temperatures would be even greater!
I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like.
What baffles me is why after fixing her flat - didn't the mom just turn the jeep around and go back the way she came?
As a persons body core temp rises in excessiv
Yes, there's more to learn here. The news reports at this point may not be accurate, either. The park ranger who found them passed her flat tire and the rim (!) in route. Who leaves their tire and rim behind?

You're right, she may not have been thinking clearly. I may not in that unrelenting, searing heat and after the exertion of changing a tire. She was capable enough to change the tire - have to give her that. Many women aren't.

She apparently was relying on the car's nav system. That's hard to believe. Who in their right mind would not have a map in that area? Why would anyone think the car nav would cover dirt roads in Death Valley?

Maybe she did have a map. I don't trust the media on all these details.

This may be the classic case of -- excuse the pun -- getting in a hole and digging it deeper. Maybe she was having trouble turning around on that road. Maybe she was so confused she was simply lost at that point.

In any event, she should never have left Las Vegas with just a case of water (3 gallons).

Not sure how much water I'd take for me and Gidget. When I was planning on driving across country in May I kept getting hung up on the Las Vegas to Sequoia portion. Particularly the Las Vegas to Bakersfield part. I was also looking at Death Valley. I have a cousin in Ridgecrest.

But even staying on the Interstate, I was so intimidated by the prospect of harsh conditions and being stranded on the highway by myself with Gidget. I'm hesitant to drive that Interstate by myself, let alone a dirt road in Death Valley with a little kid in the car. In August.

Good heavens. There are bodies of water on the other side of Vegas that would be appealing in the summer.

I wonder if the little boy was giving the dog some of his water. A child would do that for their dog. So would many adults.


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Another story for Laurence Gonzalez's next installment of "Deep Survival."

The events leading up to young Carlos Sanchez's death, the third in the park this year, have authorities baffled. Many questions remain unanswered about the decisions the woman made, including what role a GPS device played in guiding her.

Instead of turning around and returning home after getting a flat tire, she continued on the trail.

And near the end of the road, she left it for a little-used two-track trail that headed into the vast China Lake Naval Weapons Center.

Was she trying to find her way back onto a paved road?

Was she reading her GPS incorrectly?

Or was the GPS wrong?

"Those are a lot of the questions we're not exactly sure have been asked yet," park spokesman Terry Baldino said.

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