French couple dead in New Mexico desert — French couple died while walking in hellish heat at White Sands National Monument.
- David Steiner, 42, and his wife, Ornella Steinner, 51, from the small French town of Bourgogne, the couple was found dead but their son Enzo,10, was found alive.
County Sheriff who rescued believed that the parents had given the boy two sips of water for their son to survive.The French couple was dehydrated that leads to their death, their son was also dehydrated but in remarkably good shape when he was found alongside his dead father on a trail, Otero County Sheriff Benny House said. “The parents would take a drink and give him two drinks,” House said, “I’m sure that’s a contributing factor in how he fared so well.”
Tuesday, the Steiner family apparently traveled to the 275-square-mile park to admire the otherworldly beauty of the wave-like white dunes. The park recommends hiking during cooler hours, but the family set off at around 1 p.m. on a day when temperatures topped 100 degrees and failed to sign in at the entrance to the trail, which goes up and down through sand dunes and offers no shade whatsoever.
According to Marie Sauter, the park superintendent , temperatures topped 100 degrees that day, normal for early August. “There is no shade,” she said. “There is no cover. You are out exposed to the sun, the wind the heat, the reflection of the sun off the white sand. It’s a harsh desert environment.”
House said, “It was the perfect storm for this family. They started off the trek with two 20-ounce bottles of water. When we got there, there was no water left in the bottles.” The park newsletter advises hikers to carry 1 gallon (128 ounces) of water per person.
Enzo told the sheriff that his mother began feeling ill and complained of an injured knee about a mile and a half into the hike. She turned back and started walking toward the car, but collapsed after 90 meters. Park service employees on patrol found the mother dead around 5 p.m. Looking at her camera, the sheriff saw photos of a man and boy at the park’s entrance and expanded the search. The two was found in the park entrance, the boy was beside his father’s dead body.
Autopsies are not complete but the deaths appear to be heat-related, the sheriff said. The boy’s grandmother flew from France to Albuquerque to care for him. Marie Sauter said. “We have had some fatalities in the years past. The most recent one was in June 2011 and that was on the Alkali Flats Trail.”
New Mexico is a state located in the southwestern and western regions of the United States, admitted to the union as the 47th state in 1912. It is usually considered one of the Mountain States. New Mexico is the 5th most extensive, the 36th most populous, and the 6th least densely populated of the 50 United States.
The climate of New Mexico is generally semi-arid to arid, though there are areas of continental and alpine climates, and its territory is mostly covered by mountains, high plains, and desert. The Great Plains (High Plains) are located in the eastern portion of the state, similar to the Colorado high plains in eastern Colorado. The two states share similar terrain, with both having plains, mountains, basins, mesas, and desert lands. New Mexico’s average precipitation rate is 13.9 inches (350mm) a year. The average annual temperatures can range from 64°F (18°C) in the southeast to below 40°F (4°C) in the northern mountains.During the summer months, daytime temperatures can often exceed 100°F (38°C) at elevations below 5,000 feet (1,500m), the average high temperature in July ranges from 97°F (36°C) at the lower elevations to the upper 70s (°F, up to 26°C) at the higher elevations. Many cities in New Mexico can have temperature lows in the teens. The highest temperature recorded in New Mexico was 122°F (50°C) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Loving on June 27, 1994 and the lowest recorded temperature is −50°F (−46°C) at Gavilan on February 1, 1951.IMAGE/www.theguardian.com