What was supposed to be a beautiful day basking in the great outdoors turned deadly for 67-year-old David Kelleher.
During his drive through Death Valley National Park, he ran out of gas – and went walking to find help.
Sadly – he died just a few feet from the highway before he could locate assistance – and his tragic story serves as a warning to us all on some precautions to take this summer.
Death Valley National Park is known to be one of the hottest places on earth – hence its name.
In July of 2021, the temperature at the visitor’s center reached a scorching 130 degrees Fahrenheit!
Yet the breathtaking sand dunes, Dante’s View, and Zabriskie Point are enough for visitors to risk the heat.
Sadly, many people aren’t prepared to deal with such high temperatures and there are often reports of illnesses and even deaths in Death Valley.
And David Kelleher became its latest victim during his visit to the national park.
Reports state he had been walking from Zabriskie Point to the visitor’s center – and was about 2.5 miles from his vehicle when he collapsed from the heat.
He was close to the highway – but couldn’t see it due to a large tree and the surrounding terrain obstructing his view.
“He was found about 30 feet from State Route 190 but the highway was obscured by terrain and a mesquite tree, the park said.
Kelleher hadn’t been reported missing but a park ranger spotted a lone vehicle in the Zabriskie Point parking lot on June 11 and remembered it from three days earlier, the park said. It was registered to Kelleher.
“A crumpled note inside Kelleher’s vehicle said, ‘out of gas,'” the park said.
An air and ground search for Kelleher had been limited by temperatures that topped 120 degrees at times, officials said.”
What a sad and tragic story – but a caution to us all.
We know instinctively that summer can be hot – but being outside in scorching high temperatures for hours at a time without proper preparation can be deadly.
If you are planning an outdoor trip – make sure you are well-hydrated and bring enough water with you.
Try and do the tougher hikes in the early morning, ideally before 10am, to avoid the sun when it’s at its hottest.
And dress for the weather – making sure you have a hat, sunscreen, and other light and loose-fitting clothing that allows your body to breathe.
As much as possible – bring a friend with you if you are going on a challenging hike. Remember, anything can happen – even to the most athletically fit.
And if you are driving through the park – make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas – and be sure to give it a full maintenance check beforehand – paying close attention to your oil levels and tire pressure.
And don’t forget to take advantage of the air conditioning in your car!
Hiking can be risky – especially during the heat – but a little preparation will do wonders in helping you avoid a tragic experience.
(h/t Proud American Traveler)