French Couple Dies Hiking In New Mexico Desert, Saved Son By Giving Him Their Water

A French couple, 42-year-old David Steiner and his wife 51-year-old Ornella Steiner, died while hiking the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The couple began their hike on the Alkali Flat trail with their 9-year-old son and two 20-ounce bottles of water at 1:00 p.m. in 101-degree heat. With no vegetation or shade along the trail, the family was left without shade in the searing heat. With little water for the family-of-three, the parents decided to give their young son two sips of water for each of their one, this would end up saving the child’s life as the two adults perished from heat-related causes in the desert sun.

KVIA reports that David and Ornella Steiner were hiking in the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico with their 9-year-old son Enzo in mid-day heat when Ornella fell down a dune and hurt her leg. Otero County Sheriff Benny House says that it appears the father and son left the marked trail to find help for the injured woman, leaving her behind to wait for help to arrive. Sadly, the father and waiting mother would succumb to the heat before finding help. This left the young child stranded in the middle of the desert next to his dead father.

However, the Daily Mail reports that prior to their deaths, the Steiner parents did something that likely saved their son’s life, but sealed their own fate. With just two 20-ounce bottles of water, David and Ornella decided to give their son twice as much water as they would give themselves to ensure was hydrated. Therefore, for every sip of water the two adults took from the bottle, they gave their son two. With twice as much water and a smaller body size, authorities noted the boy was in surprisingly good shape when he was found.

Reports indicate that when Ornella began to complain about her hurt leg, the father and son either moved forward to find help or went on as Ornella felt she could make it back to the car to wait for the pair. However, Ornella would only make it about 100 yards before collapsing in the heat as her husband and son pushed forward not knowing of her fate. Eventually, park rangers would find Ornella’s body along the trail. The rangers found a camera on the deceased woman’s body and began looking for clues. What they found sent them in a frantic search. The photographs showed that the woman began the hike with her husband and son; therefore, rangers began the search for the missing pair. An hour and a half later they would find the deceased father with the son waiting near his body. The pair were just 2,000 feet from where the mother passed away.

Rangers took the boy in for treatment, but noted that he was in remarkable good shape due to the extra hydration he received from his parents. The boy’s grandmother flew to Albuquerque on Thursday to take him into custody after learning of the Steiners’ fate from the French Embassy.

[Image Credit: Facebook/ NPS]