Heat claimed the lives of a French couple hiking the dunes of the Alkali Flat Trail with their 9-year-old son, CNN reported. The mother and father were both overcome by the temperature and died of heat-related illness, collapsing at different points along the trail, the local sheriff said.
The mother turned back when she didn’t feel well and died on her way to the car. Unaware she had collapsed, the father and son continued on — but the man, too, became disoriented and then died with the boy at his side, Otero County Sheriff, Benny House said.
Though dehydrated, the boy survived. But he might not have made it were it not for a sheriff’s deputy who was first called to help the child’s mother.
Two park service employees on patrol Tuesday discovered the mother first, according to Marie Sauter, superintendent of the White Sands National Monument.
They called the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, which sent deputies and emergency responders, but 51-year-old Ornella Steiner already was dead.
“They were trying to figure out why she was on the trail by herself,” Sheriff Benny House told CNN.
Looking at Steiner’s camera for clues, the deputy saw photos of a man and boy at the park’s entrance. They were unaccounted for, House said, so deputies then extended their search.
Deputies found the father and son about 45 minutes later, slightly off the trail. David Steiner, 42, was dead. The son, whose name was not given, was with him.
“He wasn’t crying,” House said, but “he was dehydrated and of course he was upset.”
Culled from CNN