Friday, August 7, 2009

Boy Dies In Death Valley National Park

Many times, our technology can give the false illusion of safety. Increasing numbers of people have started to rely on GPS units in the back-country and for navigation. Although this can be a handy tool, basic map and compass skills are still a vital and necessary asset for survival.

This Fox News article, covers the recent death of an 11 year old boy who died from dehydration in Death Valley National Park. The story quotes:

An 11-year-old boy died in the intense heat of Death Valley National Park after he and his mother became stranded in one of the world's most inhospitable areas and survived for several days on bottled water, Pop-Tarts and cheese sandwiches, authorities said Friday.

Alicia Sanchez, 28, was found severely dehydrated and remained hospitalized in Las Vegas a day after being found with her dog, her dead son and a Jeep Cherokee buried up to its axles in sand.

She told rescuers in California's San Bernardino County that her son Carlos died Wednesday, days after she fixed a flat tire and continued into Death Valley, relying on directions from a GPS device in the vehicle.

The story goes on to say that

"A GPS does not replace a map, a compass, checking in at the visitor center and letting people know where you're going to be," Pennington said.

He said searchers mistakenly looked late Wednesday for Sanchez in campgrounds in the Panamint Mountains, based on family members' reports that she planned to camp in free sites and visit the Scotty's Castle attraction in the far northeast corner of the vast national park.

This story illustrates how vital it is to take precautions while traveling in the back-country. Always let someone know your itinerary and check in with officials before starting out. Always carry a map and a compass. You never know what will happen in the back-country wilderness. Do not rely on technology to save you. Rely on yourself.

Be prepared and give the wilderness the respect it deserves. To read about how you can hone your back-country skills if you become lost, click here. We've had some close calls ourselves.

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