Two visitors from France died Tuesday afternoon while hiking the Alkali Flat Trail in White Sands National Monument. A minor child in the group was found alive, rescued by monument and local emergency personnel, and treated for heat exposure.
Park rangers discovered the three French nationals while on routine trail patrol approximately 1.5 miles from the Alkali Flat trailhead. The deceased female victim was found about 5:30 p.m. and the deceased male and surviving boy about half an hour later. The daytime high temperature in the monument Tuesday reached 101 degrees F.
The deaths are being investigated by the Otero County (NM) Sheriff’s Office. The French authorities were immediately notified and are assisting in the case.
During extreme summer heat it is critical to be prepared and know your limitations. For summer hiking, it is recommended to hike during the coolest part of the day, which is early morning or early evening. We recommend that visitors not start a hike when the temperature is at or above 85 degrees F. There is no shade or water along any of the trails in the monument.
We also recommend that hikers bring at least one gallon of water per person per day and high- energy snacks. Wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and long pants to help protect skin from the sun. Always have a plan when you hike – tell someone who is not in your party where you are hiking and when you plan to return.