A 65-year-old man was found dead in Death Valley National Park on Monday amid a relentless heat wave – even for Death Valley standards. Officials believe extreme heat is to blame for the fatality.
Around 10 a.m. local time on July 3, a maintenance worker located a vehicle about 30 yards off the road. Upon examining the stray car, the worker noticed the lifeless body within the sedan, according to the National Park Services (NPS).
“The sedan’s tracks ran along the road shoulder and rocky berm before veering further away from the paved road,” a press release from the NPS wrote. “The vehicle did not crash but had two flat tires when stopped.”
The initial investigation suggests that a heat-related illness may have caused the driver to run off the road, the NPS said in a press release.
According to AccuWeather meteorologists, the high temperature on Sunday, July 2, was 126 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures topped 122 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, July 3. That’s a few notches above the historical average high temperature of 116 F for early July. Between Sunday and Monday, overnight low temperatures didn’t drop below 98 F, compared to the historical average of 89 F for a low.
“The vehicle was found to be operational and was not stuck; however, the air-conditioning in the vehicle was not operational,” wrote the NPS. “The driver’s window was found down, further indication that the air conditioning was not functioning when the man was driving.”
Just over a year ago, 67-year-old David Kelleher of Huntington Beach, California, died in Death Valley National Park due to extreme heat. During a record-setting June heat wave in 2022, Kelleher’s vehicle ran out of gas. A few days later, park visitors found his body about 2.5 miles away from the car. Investigators believe he was walking to get gas in the town of Furnace Creek and succumbed to the extreme heat. The temperatures during the time Kelleher was in the park reached as high as 123 F.
Heat-related deaths are the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States. An average of 153 heat-related deaths occur every year, according to a 10-year average from the National Weather Service.
On Sunday, a woman died at the Grand Canyon National Park after trying to hike 8 miles in triple-digit temperatures. The 57-year-old was found unconscious early Monday morning and pronounced dead at the scene. According to the NPS, the temperature in the area this woman was hiking was over 100 F.
During a recent trip to Big Bend National Park in southwestern Texas, a stepfather and his two stepsons found themselves in serious danger amid sweltering heat.
The youngest stepson, age 14, fell ill and lost consciousness on the trail. The 31-year-old stepfather left the scene in search of help. The other stepson, a 21-year-old, tried to carry the younger male back to the trailhead, but around 7:30 p.m. local time, emergency officials located the younger male deceased along the trail. Roughly 30 minutes later, authorities found the stepfather’s vehicle crashed over an embankment, and he was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
According to a press release, temperatures at Big Bend during the time of the hike were at 119 F.
At least 13 other deaths in Texas have been blamed on a scorching heat wave that started in mid-June, according to The Associated Press. An additional death in Louisiana last week was also confirmed to be heat-related.
Produced in association with AccuWeather
“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”
Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.