ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida man and his stepson who died while hiking during extreme heat at a Texas national park last week were from Orlando, the National Park Service (NPS) told FOX 35 News on Monday.
Their names were not being released at this time, authorities said.
A spokesperson for the National Parks Service said the 31-year-old man and his two stepsons – 14 and 21 – were hiking along the Marufo Vega Trail in Texas' Big Bend National Park on Friday evening, June 23, when the younger boy became sick and unconscious.
The father left to hike back to the car to get help, while the older brother attempted to carry the 14-year-old back to the trailhead, NPS said in a news release.
Officials said temperatures at the time the three were hiking were around 119 degrees. Much of Texas has been under an extreme heatwave over the last several days.
"It was the hottest time of the day, and it was so far the hottest day we've had this year," explained Tom VandenBerg, a park ranger at Big Bend National Park. "There's no cell service or anything like that in that area or shade or anything like that, and very few people around in that part of the park at that time of the day."
At 6 p.m., Big Bend National Park officials said it received an emergency call for help along the trail. A team of Park Rangers and U.S. Border Patrol Agents reached the trail at 7:30 p.m. and found the teenager dead.
A search then began for the father, who was found 30 minutes later dead inside his vehicle, which has crashed over an embankment at the Boquillas Overlook, officials said.
"The father from what we can understand was driving, as you could imagine, probably pretty stressed out and frantic to get help to his sons, and at some point had a crash over an embankment," VandenBerg said.
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The 21-year-old stepson has since returned home to his family in Orlando, the NPS told FOX 35 News.
Officials said the trail the family was on stretches through "extremely rugged desert and rocky cliffs within the hottest part" of the national park.
Without shade or water, NPS the trail is dangerous to attempt a hike in the heat of the summer.
FOX 35 spoke with Dr. Corinne Bria, a pediatric emergency physician at Nemours Children's Health, about heat-related illnesses and the dangers of being outside during extreme temperatures.
"Heat-related illness is dangerous because it’s something that is very gradual and can sneak up on people, especially when you have adults, children, who are already from hot, tropical climates such as Florida," Dr. Bria said.
"It really takes about seven to 14 days to truly acclimate to a different environment or to a hot, humid, or a hot and dry environment," she said.
She had three ways to prevent heat-related illnesses: give yourself time to acclimate, rest in the shade or air conditioning, and stay hydrated.