A French couple died while hiking in New Mexico last week during oppressive heat while their 9-year-old son, who was hiking with them, survived.
According to local officials, their efforts to keep their son hydrated may have led to their death, the Associated Press reported.
Temperatures soared to 101 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, Aug. 4, in White Sands National Monument in south-central New Mexico, roughly 100 miles north of El Paso, Texas.
Otero County Sheriff Benny House told the AP that the boy likely took two sips of water for every sip his parents took. House said the three were sharing two 20-ounce water bottles. With no shade along the trail, summer hikers are encouraged to wait for cooler conditions in the early evening or morning.
There are signs with warnings in French at the start of the Alkali Flat Trail, House said.
Officials found the mother around 5:30 p.m. local time on a routine patrol before discovering the boy with his deceased father about half an hour later. The child was treated for heat exposure after being rescued by monument and local emergency personnel.
While the temperatures into the triple digits are typical for this time of year, park rangers encouraged visitors to begin a hike only if temperatures are below 85 F. Additionally, each hiker should carry at least a gallon of water per day, along with high energy snacks.
"Continuous hydration is key when being out in the heat," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dan DePodwin said. "Without plenty of water, it is easy to become dehydrated which, if not remedied, can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke."