Extreme Heat Causes Second Hiker’s Death in 3 Days in Death Valley

by Shelby Scott

Summer temperatures continue to climb following the intensification of climate change. As a result, park goers in Death Valley, California must exercise caution during their visits. The national park saw its second fatality in three days due to the extreme temperatures.

According to the New York Post, Death Valley’s intense heat took the life of 52-year-old Kansas resident Blake Chaplin. The fatality occurred early Saturday near the Golden Canyon Trail. The temperature recorded at the man’s time of death was a scorching 109 degrees.

Although, despite the intense heat, the National Park Service stated that Death Valley had recently been experiencing cooler temperatures compared to the everyday summer weather within the park.

“Although these temperatures may be cooler compared to a typical Death Valley summer day, precautions should still be taken while visiting in the heat,” officials stated.

Nevertheless, as previously stated, Chaplin’s death was not the first to take place this week among Death Valley’s extreme heat. The outlet stated that 60-year-old hiker, Lawrence Steinbeck, died of a suspected heat stroke. The earlier incident also took place near Golden Canyon Trail on August 18th. Similarly, the San Francisco resident died while out in extreme temperatures reaching an unbearable 108 degrees.

Death Valley Temperatures Saw Major Extremes Early This Summer

The 108-109 temperatures most recently recorded within the U.S. national park are no doubt remarkable. However, they are by far not the hottest the valley has seen this summer. In July, parkgoers and rangers were witnessing temperatures just below 130 degrees.

Further, Death Valley saw its highest-ever 24-hour temperature average in mid-July. The low, which also set a record for the highest low recorded in North America, was an excruciating 107.7 degrees. The high? 128.6 degrees. Together, the numbers resulted in the highest daily temperature recorded anywhere in the history of the planet.

And while the western U.S. had been experiencing those major heat waves a little over a month ago, Death Valley saw yet another death due to heat.

Another Death Valley hiker, Douglas Branham (68), was previously found dead two miles from the closest road in the national park. Regardless of how ridiculous or insane it may sound among record-shattering temperatures, Branham had been planning on completing a 10-12-mile hike when temperatures sat at 118 degrees and the humidity levels reached 91%.

While at the time, authorities didn’t specifically state whether or not Branham died of the heat, chances are very likely that that was the case. As were these two most recent fatalities.

Following the most recent deaths in Death Valley, park rangers are urging travelers and parkgoers to avoid too much activity post-10 a.m. Further, they encourage individuals to stay relatively close to air-conditioned locations. After Branham’s death, those same authorities encouraged hikers to either explore early in the morning and at high elevations. They also emphasized the importance of remaining hydrated and eating snacks.