Man Died of Extreme Heat at Death Valley National Park As Temperatures Reach 100 Degrees

According to a statement from the National Park Service, a dead man was found this week in Death Valley National Park due to extreme heat. On June 14, 2022, park visitors found the body of David Kelleher, 67, who had run out of gas while walking from Zabriskie Point to Furnace Creek.

On the morning of June 8, a park ranger found that the Zabriskie Point parking lot had only one parked vehicle. The same park ranger saw only one vehicle in the parking lot on the evening of June 11 and recognized it from three days earlier. Kelleher of Huntington Beach, California was identified as the owner of that vehicle.

Temperatures reached 123°F during a heat wave that occurred within the week.

Out of Gas

Park Rangers began an investigation after discovering the vehicle in the same location, at one of the park’s most popular viewpoints, and discovered that Kelleher had not been reported missing. Kelleher was also cited for off-road driving by a Park Ranger on May 30, according to records.

A crumpled note saying that Kelleher was out of gas was left inside Kelleher’s car. A few days prior, when a park ranger contacted him near Dantes View Road on May 30, Kelleher mentioned that he was running low on gas.

The ground and aerial searches for the man were limited due to the extreme heat. The search concentrated on the nearby Golden Canyon and Badlands Trails, however, his body was later discovered in a different location. On June 14th around 2 pm, park visitors located his body about 2.5 miles from the vehicle, but only about 30 feet from California Highway 190. unfortunately, the highway is hidden by the terrain and a mesquite tree there, which Kelleher might have missed .

Read also: Extreme Heat Waves Can Cause More Power Outages

Safety in Death Valley

Due to increased occurrences of heat waves and extreme heat, the park rangers once again cautioned the public and recommend waiting in the broken vehicle rather than attempting to walk for help if found in the same situation. In addition, the National Park Service advises park visitors to avoid hiking at low elevations after 10 a.m., to drink plenty of water, stay within a short walk of air conditioning, and eat salty snacks in the summer.

Unfortunately, this is not the park’s only recent death. On June 1, John McCarry, 69, of Long Beach, California, was found dead in Panamint Valley.

Another man was also recorded missing, and on May 23, a search for Peter Harootunian began after his vehicle was found abandoned in Emigrant Campground by National Park Service staff. The search and rescue for Harootunian have been scaled back to a limited and ongoing effort.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is well-known as America’s lowest, hottest, and driest national park, and adventurous visitors enjoy it for its many extremes and mysteries, including the sailing stones. The mountain surrounding ranges and the lack of rainfall influence the weather in Death Valley. Summer daytime temperatures of 120°F are common, with nighttime lows in the 90s.

Related article: Kansas Heat Wave Kills Around 10,000 Fat Cattle as Temperatures Reach over 100 Degrees Fahrenheit

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