After a harrowing afternoon in the White Sands National Monument, two French tourists are dead but their son remains alive due to their compassion and child-first mentality.
This past week, the couple and child headed out on the 4.6 mile Alkali Flat Trail at approximately 1pm when temperatures soared just above 100 degrees farenheit. The family was tragically unaware as to the necessity for copious amounts of water during their hike.
With only two 20 oz. bottles of water, the couple finished their water quickly and became disoriented.
According to cnn.com, the couple then split up. The mother, who had aggravated a previous knee injury, headed back to the trailhead, while the father and son moved forward. 300 ft later, the mother collapsed and subsequently died. The father and son made it another 2,000 ft before the father become disoriented and fell over.
“I just think they underestimated the desert”- Otero County Sheriff Benny House
When park rangers arrived on the scene, the son was sitting next to his deceased father. The son was dehydrated but conscious.
The parents reportedly gave their child extra water, which is the main reason he’s still alive today.
“The parents would take a drink and give him two drinks,” said Sheriff House.
As of now, the autopsies have yet to be completed, but park officials believe the deaths to be heat-related.
Fatalities in National Parks
- Between 2007 and 2013, 1,025 people died in National Parks
- The Grand Canyon National Park has the most fatalities of any park
- The deaths were the 3rd and 4th in the White Sands National Monument in the past 10 years
- 2,348 search and rescue missions were conducted in national parks in 2013 costing $3.8 million dollars