20-Year-Old Hiker Dies, Others Rescued After Getting Lost on Arizona Trail

by Caitlin Berard

Like countless adventurers all across the country, a group of six young Arizona residents decided to spend Labor Day in the great outdoors. Specifically, they planned a hike of Spur Cross Trail near Cave Creek. Spur Cross is known as a moderately challenging hike, but because of its relatively short length, it takes an average of just two hours to complete.

Now, Arizona heat can be deadly, especially in the summer. But with an early start and plenty of water in their bags, the hikers planned to be finished with the 5.2-mile trek well before the heat of the afternoon set in. Somewhere along the way, however, they got lost. And to make matters worse, their phones had died.

They had already traveled four miles, but with no idea where they were and no way of reaching out for help, the hikers continued on. Before they could find their way back to their vehicles, they ran out of water. And at this point, the situation turned dire.

Another group finally found them at around 1:30 p.m., allowing them to borrow a phone to call 911. Maricopa County police and emergency services responded to a call for possible heat exhaustion, but the scene they found was far worse than they imagined.

When deputies and firefighters arrived, one of the hikers, a 20-year-old man, was immediately transported to the local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Thankfully, the remaining five hikers were successfully rescued. Emergency crews removed them from the trail and transported them to a hospital for treatment.

Arizona Fire Department Warns of Dangers of Hiker Heat Stroke

Following the harrowing incident, Scottsdale Fire Captain Dave Folio warned other hikers of the dangers of venturing into the extreme Arizona heat. According to the fire captain, the ground was an unbelievable 127 degrees when they arrived to rescue the hikers.

“When we got out on that trail, the temperature on the asphalt alone was reading 127 off of our truck. I think it was 109 outside. So, it was extreme heat,” Folio explained to WIBW. “They should have been off the trail three or four hours ago. Have a plan, know your limitations. That’s the message we are trying to get out.”

The fire captain went on to share the hikers’ commendable preparations. He did so, however, to illustrate that even the most well-laid plans can end in tragedy.

“These hikers actually did it right,” Folio said. “They started early, but they ran out of water. So, when you get halfway on your water we just want to remind people. Turn around, go back to the trailhead, and/or call 911 if you’re having heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”