THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Camping trip fatal to boy, 11, in desert

Mother rescued in Death Valley

By Ken Ritter
Associated Press / August 8, 2009

E-mail this article

Invalid email address
Invalid email address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • Email|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

LAS VEGAS - 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 yesterday.

Alicia Sanchez, 28, was found severely dehydrated and was 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.

“It’s in about as remote and isolated an area as you can find,’’ Death Valley National Park Chief Ranger Brent Pennington told the Associated Press. “How she got to that point, I don’t know.’’

Pennington said Sanchez was found by a ranger who followed tire tracks off a dirt road into the Owlshead Mountains near the China Lake Naval Air Station, just inside the southwest corner of the vast national park near the California-Nevada state line.

Summer temperatures commonly run above 120 degrees in Death Valley, with the average daytime August temperature about 113. The high Tuesday and Wednesday was 111, with a low of 96 early Tuesday.

An autopsy on the boy is scheduled for next week.

The family’s pet dachshund survived the ordeal and was being cared for by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies, said Sergeant Tim Lotspeich, a deputy who assisted in the rescue about 20 miles east of the remote town of Trona, Calif. Trona is about 140 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Officials said Sanchez and her son set out last Saturday on what was to be an overnight camping trip. By all accounts, no one reported them missing until Wednesday.

Sanchez told authorities she could not get a cellphone signal and even hiked to the top of a peak to try.