French Couple Dies Hiking New Mexican Desert | 9-Year Old Son Survives

SnowBrains |
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.

A French couple died while hiking in New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument last Tuesday.  Their 9-year-old boy was found by park rangers alive.  It’s thought that the parents sacrificed water to save the boy.

“The father and mother would take one drink while they made the child take two swallows of water.  It might have been why the child fared so well due to his smaller stature, plus he probably consumed more water than they did.” – Otero County Sheriff Benny House

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.

The trio had gone hiking into the sand dune desert off Highway 70, between Las Cruces and Alamogordo, New Mexico.  It’s being reported that the parents ended up suffering from heat exhaustion.  Rangers found the husband, wife, and boy all in different locations during a routine patrol last Tuesday.  The boy was found in decent shape.

The French couple, David & Ornella Steiner, 42 and 51 respectively, were from Bourgogne, France.  They had fallen in love with the Western USA on a previous trip there and had been planning this tragic trip for over a year.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.

The couple was carrying two 20-ounce water bottle when the started out on the hike on the shadeless Alkali Flat Trail at around 1pm last Tuesday during the heat of the day.  Ornella separated from the group and turned back, collapsing just 100-yards away.  David collapsed about 2,000 feet down the trail from Ornella.

The 9-year-old boy was treated for dehydration at a local hospital and released to his grandmother who had flown into Albuquerque.

The 4.6-miles Alkali Trail the family was on provides no shade and is known to have temperatures in the 100s this time of year.  The park service urges people to cary one gallon of water per person on these hikes this time of year.


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