On Sunday, June 18th, Cathlyn Weir of Cedar Hill, TX, died while hiking in Big Bend National Park. South Plains Forensic Pathology of Lubbock, TX, determined the cause of death to be environmental hyperthermia.
Mid-morning on June 18th, the couple started hiking the Dog Canyon Trail. Nearing noon, both individuals started exhibiting signs of heat distress and dehydration. The woman’s hiking partner was able to hike back to the trailhead and notify the park of the situation around 2:30 pm. An interagency response included Park Rangers and Border Patrol Agents. The remains were located around 4:20 pm. Shade temperatures were reported to be 110 degrees in that area of the park that day.
Hyperthermia, or heat illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can arise quickly, especially in the desert. The park recommends being off hiking trails before temperatures reach 100 degrees, which often means hiking prior to 10 or 11 am. Increased fluid intake is also important, so remember to drink before you feel thirsty and avoid diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol. Additionally, cover skin by wearing lightweight long-sleeved clothing and wide brimmed hats.
Big Bend National Park’s staff wishes to send sincere condolences to the friends and family of the deceased, and reminds all visitors to take precautions when visiting the park during periods of intense heat and severe conditions.
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