A 9-year-old boy was saved thanks to a camera his mom was carrying. The parents were not so lucky and died during a challenging New Mexico hike.
The deputy who looked through the dead woman’s camera found a photo of the 9-year-old boy, as he was looking for clues. Suddenly the deadly discovery turned into a search for the missing child in the White Sands National Monument, 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, Tuesday.
Hiking White Sands in New Mexico is challenging and the 100-plus-degree temperatures proved to be too much for the two French tourists, according to the New York Daily News. Even though rangers weren’t able to reach the parents in time to save their lives, they found the 9-year-old boy dehydrated, but alive.
An Otero County Sheriff’s officer came upon the woman’s body about one-and-a-half miles from the Alkali Flat trail head at 5:15 p.m. In an effort to find out what exactly happened to the victim, the officer started looking through the woman’s pictures and realized the 9-year-old boy was not at the scene.
“We were trying to figure out what was going on,” Otero County Sheriff Benny House told the Daily News. “We looked at the camera. Otherwise, he could have been the victim as well.”
Rangers kept searching for the 9-year-old boy and found him by his dead father’s side about half an hour away from where the mother was located. The boy was taken to a hospital and treated for heat exposure and released to child protective services, Kvia reports.
Ornella Steiner, 51, David Steiner, 42, and their 9-year-old son were visiting the U.S. from Reims, France. House told ABC-7 that investigators believe the mother may have fallen down one of the dunes, hurting herself. She then succumbed to the heat while the father and son looked for help. They were found about 2,000 feet away from the woman.
The 9-year-old boy, identified by L’Union newspaper as Enzo, survived the ordeal in New Mexico. The French consulate was contacted and the child’s grandmother flew from France to pick up the child on Thursday afternoon.
According to police, White Sands Park rangers discovered the family on a routine trail patrol. Temperatures at the monument reached 101 degrees fahrenheit on Tuesday.
“I think so many of us who have children understand the tragedy,” Park Superintendent Marie Sauter told KVIA. “It has been a completely heartbreaking experience for all of us.”
To avoid a tragedy such as the one that claimed the 9-year-old boy’s family, park rangers recommend hiking during early morning or early evening during the summertime. It is also suggested to bring at least one-gallon of water per person and energy snacks, as well as a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves, and long pants to help protect skin from the sun. Additionally, it is a good idea to let someone know of your plans.
[Image via Snowpeak/Wikipedia]