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Boy dies in Death Valley, underscoring danger of summertime heat


News item: A 6-year-old boy succumbs to heat during a camping trip in Death Valley National Park after his mother's vehicle becomes stuck in soft ground on a rarely traveled dirt road. It's the third fatality attributed to the heat -- the other two involved hikers -- inside the park this summer.

Reaction: Not to sound callous but why would anyone want to camp or hike in Death Valley in August? Temperatures last week, when the latest tragedy occurred, reached 117 degrees.

That said, the tragedy may serve as yet another reminder that an excursion to Death Valley during the summer requires more careful planning than trips to most other destinations. The Las Vegas woman who had set out on a one-night camping trip with her son and dog, brought a case of 16-ounce water bottles: fine for a day or two, but she was missing for five days.

Park officials recommend that visitors drink 1 to 2 gallons of water per day while inside the park, if they'll be outside their vehicles.

They urge vehicle travelers to carry tarps that can be used for shade in case they experience car trouble. They caution visitors not to rely on cellphones because service is spotty inside the park. Equally important, they urge visitors to provide family or friends with a detailed travel schedule, in case something goes wrong.

The Las Vegas woman told her family she had planned on camping in the southern portion of the park and visiting Scotty's Castle and Eureka Dunes at the northern end. It remains unclear, however, how she ended up on the obscure road in the southern portion, where her Jeep Cherokee became mired in the bottom of a gravel wash.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A view of Golden Canyon, below Zabriskie Point, in Death Valley National Park. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (5)

Desert camping is not for people who rely on GPS and cell phones.

not that i want to be sarcastic but, there is a reazon why it's called "Death Valley", yet i don't get the authorities i do not think the mother of the dead child had gone there on porpuse to fisish with the life of her own child.

I know the mother. She did have a GPS device, she did have a spare tire-which she changed and yes she probably did only have enough water for one night because she thought that was all they were staying, and cell phone service was not available. She tried. I think we will find out that the GPS is what sent her on the wrong trail.
Have some sensitivity people. She lost her only son!

As far as I am concerned...

This is no different then locking up a baby in a vehicle while shopping inside!

She's an RN which means that she damm well knows better!

May her boy rest in peace!

Stupid, stupid senseless act! No map! Not enough water! No spare tire! No GPS phone! No phone charger! No proper preparation what so ever!

It's called DEATH VALLEY for a reason!

Hmm...I wonder if she 'hogged' the water?

The mom was a nurse? Where in the world was her common-sense? DEATH VALLEY, did that not signal RED FLAGS in her head? She damm well knows the potential dangers she took when she decided on this so called camping trip! On top of that, as an RN she is trained to know the signs/symptoms of hyperthermia as well as the differences of mild>moderate>severe dehydration. Furthermore, she is well aware that a child is more prone to dehydration as compared to an adult! This mother was clearly unprepared for this trip! She knows very well how much fluid one requires on a extremely hot day! This poor child literally baked to death. What a horrific way to die, may he rest in peace now. This act was no different then leaving a child in a hot car with the windows rolled up! I personally feel that she should be charged with the death of her child! Who knows, maybe she 'hogged' the water bottle!


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