A 71-year-old hiker collapsed and died in Death Valley on Tuesday as temperatures in the valley reached at least 121F (49.4C), New York Post reported. According to National Park Service officials, Steve Curry was pronounced dead after collapsing outside of a restroom on the Golden Canyon trailhead in 121F (49C) temperatures at about 3.30 pm on Tuesday.
Other visitors who saw Mr. Curry collapsing called 911, but emergency workers with the park service and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Officer were unable to save him, despite performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator.
The Inyo County Coroner’s Office has yet to determine a cause of death, but park rangers believe heat was a factor.
“Heat may have been a factor in his death,” Death Valley national park officials said in a press release. The official temperature at nearby Furnace Creek was 121°F around the time of the man’s death.
His death came just hours after he had been interviewed by Los Angeles Times about the excessive heat. He was photographed slathered in sunscreen, huddled beneath a metal interpretive sign that afforded a small amount of shade. According to the article, he had hiked there from Golden Canyon – a distance of about two miles.
“Why do I do it?” he said when asked why he hiked in such extreme conditions. “Why not?”
Asked about the extreme weather condition, Mr. Curry told a reporter that ”it’s a dry heat,” and ”everything is hot here”.
Mr. Curry’s death comes two weeks after a 65-year-old man from the San Diego area was found dead in his vehicle in the park, as per a press release. Extreme heat appears to have caused his death, the park service said.
Notably, many tourists have been flocking to a part of the National Park known as Furnace Creek to experience some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded. Furnace Creek previously recorded the hottest-ever temperature on Earth at 134 degrees in July 1913, USA Today reported.
Park rangers have encouraged people to visit Death Valley safely in the summer by sightseeing short distances from their air-conditioned cars or hiking in the park’s cooler mountains. They do not recommend hiking at low elevations after 10:00 am.
More than 100 million people across the US southwest remained under heat alerts this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
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