Big Bend: Stepfather, teen die after hiking in 119-degree heat in West Texas national park

When a 14-year-old boy was dying in the extreme heat on a hiking trip in Big Bend National Park in Texas, his stepfather turned back to seek help.

The 31-year-old stepmother was walking to her car when the Deans’ brother picked her up in 119-degree heat. As his desperate journey ends in a car crash, and his own death, expect little relief from the heat this week in West Texas.

A 31-year-old Florida man was hiking the Marufo Vega Trail with his two stepchildren — ages 21 and 14 — when Big Bend’s communications center received a call for emergency help around 6 p.m. Friday, the National Park Service said. Press release. At the time of the call, the temperature in Big Bend reached 119 degrees, park officials said.

The 14-year-old boy “passed out in the roadway” after the stepfather got back into their vehicle to get help while the 21-year-old tried to get his brother back on the road, according to the news release. .

When a team of park rangers and US Border Patrol agents arrived on the scene around 7:30 p.m., they found the 14-year-old boy on the trail and pronounced him dead. Thirty minutes after finding the dead 14-year-old, park officials discovered the Florida man’s vehicle had “crashed into the embankment at Poquilas Overlook.”

“A 31-year-old male was pronounced dead at the scene,” the park said in a news release.

Park officials had not publicly identified the man or his foster children as of Monday morning. The teenager’s cause of death is still pending.

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“The incident is under investigation,” park officials said.

Big Bend National Park spokesman Tom Vandenberg told The Washington Post on Monday that “the 21-year-old has returned to family in Florida,” but had no other updates on him or his condition.

The deaths in Big Bend are part of a brutal Texas heat wave entering its third week. The five hottest cities in the U.S. on Sunday were all in Texas, each reaching at least 111 degrees. Fort Worth reached a high of 117 degrees on Sunday.

All five — Fort Worth, Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — are forecast to have highs above 100 degrees every day this week. Del Rio, Tex., reached 110 degrees on Sunday, the eighth straight day on record. National Weather Service (NWS).

“Oppressive and persistent heat will become increasingly dangerous and dangerous in south and south-central Texas, especially for people with repeated long-term exposures,” the NWS said in a summary. headlines About last week’s heat wave. “Confidence is growing that a dangerous heat wave will continue through the start of the Fourth of July holiday week.”

Dubbed “Hiker’s Paradise,” Big Bend is a West Texas destination on the border with Mexico that boasts breathtaking views as part of the country’s largest protected area, the Chihuahuan Desert Landscape and Ecological Area. Spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit the park due to the cool weather. Summer is considered a vacation season in the park because extreme heat is possible.

The park’s Marufo Vega Trail “winds through extremely rugged desert and rocky cliffs within the warmest part of Big Bend National Park,” according to the park service.

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“With no shade or water it is dangerous to attempt this difficult trail in the heat of summer,” park officials said in a news release announcing the deaths of the Florida family.

Although deaths are rare in Big Bend, at least three people have died recently. In March 2022, a 53-year-old woman visited Big Bend for the first time while hiking the Hot Springs Canyon Trail, authorities said. said. In February, a 56-year-old man died after suffering chest pains while hiking the park’s Pinnacles Trail. said In a news release. Within three weeks, Big Bend officials said A 64-year-old woman died on the Hot Springs Canyon Trail in March; The region was enjoying “Unseasonal Heat” At the time, according to the NWS.

Days after a recent death in the park, Big Bend remains under an extreme heat advisory, with temperatures forecast to top 110 degrees each day along the Rio Grande and desert portions of the national park.

“These are very dangerous/deadly temperatures!” Park wrote In consultation. “Travellers should leave the trails in the afternoon. Stay hydrated. Control your exposure.

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