The death of a California woman who was hiking on a trail at Grand Canyon National Park last week has been linked to heat as temperatures soared to over 100 degrees, according to officials.
The National Park Service (NPS) said in a news release that Catherine Houe, 49, of Daly City, Calif. went into the canyon in the late afternoon on Wednesday to spend the night at Phantom Ranch.
Officials received a call around 5:36 p.m. from someone reporting a fatality on the South Kaibab Trail, about a half a mile from the tip-off resthouse.
Houe had hiked four miles down the South Kaibab Trail when she reportedly became dizzy, disoriented and then stopped breathing, according to her husband and her friend.
CPR was initiated and NPS personnel responded from the South Rim with a helicopter, but the 49-year-old was declared dead at the scene.
Park officials said on Wednesday the high temperature at Phantom Rance was 114 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The cause of death is believed to be heat-related,” the NPS stated.
Officials said an investigation into the incident is being conducted by the National Park Service in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park are strongly urged by National Park Rangers to be prepared for “excessively hot days” in the coming weeks, especially those hikers headed to the inner canyon.
In the summer, temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.
“Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heatstroke, hyponatremia and death,” officials stated.
Before the death, the NPS had issued another warning about the “unforgiving” conditions in the canyon by releasing a photo of a well-worn hiking book that had separated from its sole due to the heat.
“The heat inside the canyon can cause shoes to come apart and heavy hiking boots can trap sweat and lead to painful blisters,” the park rangers said. “Before setting off on a hike, understand the limitations of yourself and your gear.”
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