The National Park Service (NPS) confirmed to FOX 35 News on Monday that an Orlando, Florida, man and his stepson died last week while hiking in a national park in Texas due to the high heat. Authorities have not yet published the victims’ identities.
The guy, 31, and his two stepsons, ages 14 and 21, were on a hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas on Friday evening, June 23, when the younger kid fell ill and unresponsive, according to a representative for the National Parks Service.
According to a news statement from the National Park Service, the father started hiking back to the car to find help while the older brother tried to carry the 14-year-old back to the trailhead. According to authorities, temperatures were around 119 degrees while the three were out trekking. Over the past few days, a severe heatwave has affected much of Texas.
“It was the hottest time of the day, and it was so far the hottest day we’ve had this year,” explained Tom VandenBerg, a park ranger at Big Bend National Park. “There’s no cell service or anything like that in that area or shade or anything like that, and very few people around in that part of the park at that time of the day.”
The tweet below verifies the news:
A man and his stepson died after hiking in Big Bend National Park in 119-degree heat, the US National Park Service says https://t.co/muG4pR1du4
— CNN (@CNN) June 25, 2023
The ranger station at Big Bend National Park received a distress signal at 6 o’clock that evening. At around 7:30 p.m., a joint patrol of Park Rangers and U.S. Border Patrol Agents located the teen’s body on the trail. The father was reported missing for 30 minutes before his body was discovered in the wreckage of his car at the Boquillas Overlook.
“The father from what we can understand was driving, as you could imagine, probably pretty stressed out and frantic to get help to his sons, and at some point had a crash over an embankment,” VandenBerg said. According to the NPS, the stepson, who is 21 years old, has returned to his family in Orlando.
The path the family was on, according to park officials, goes through “extremely rugged desert and rocky cliffs within the hottest part” of the park. It was a scorching 119 degrees outside. NPS the trail is not safe for hiking in the summer because there is no shelter or water along it.
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Dr. Corinne Bria, a pediatric emergency physician at Nemours Children’s Health, spoke to FOX 35 about heat-related illnesses and the risks of being outside when temperatures are really high.
“Heat-related illness is dangerous because it’s something that is very gradual and can sneak up on people, especially when you have adults, children, who are already from hot, tropical climates such as Florida,” Dr. Bria said.
“It really takes about seven to 14 days to truly acclimate to a different environment or to a hot, humid, or a hot and dry environment,” she said. Give yourself time to adapt, take breaks in the shade or air conditioning, and drink plenty of water were her three suggestions for avoiding heat-related sickness.
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