Hiker Dies of Thirst Even Though His Guides Had Water

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," May 3, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The "Big Investigation": A young man from New Jersey went to Utah to test his survival skills. He did not come back alive.

Dave Buschow died of thirst on the second day of a 28-day wilderness program. His family said someone should have saved him. The wilderness school says Buschow is the one to blame. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy has our report.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, this story is a real tragedy because people around this man had water, but they didn't give it to him. His family says it's almost unthinkable.


KENNEDY (VOICE-OVER): Imagine you're in the Utah desert, dehydrated, with no water. Now imagine someone right next to you has water, but won't give you any. That's the charge being leveled today at a Colorado-based survival school by a mother of the student who died of dehydration.

PAT HERBERT, MOTHER OF DAVE BUSCHOW: My son could be alive today had someone just given him some water.

KENNEDY: Last July, Pat Herbert's 29-year-old son Dave Buschow was looking for some adventure and signed up for a 28-day survival challenge with BOSS, or Boulder Outdoor Survival School. Herbert says the instructors pushed Dave all day in 100-degree heat. She says they refused him water even after he began to slur his words, a sure sign of severe dehydration. She says her son even began to hallucinate, mistaking a tree for a person.

HERBERT: He was just within yards of the water and he could hear everyone in the distance, you know, hootin' and hollering and being happy that they found the water. And he yelled up, "Did you find water?" and they said yes and he couldn't make it.

KENNEDY: BOSS is run by Josh Bernstein, one of the country's best-known survivalists and host of The History Channel's "Digging for the Truth." On his Web site he says that the main goal of this course is to push people past "those false limits your mind has set for your body." But the sheriff's deputy who tried to revive Buschow at the desert camp says they push too hard.

RAY GARDNER, GARFIELD CO SHERIFF DEPUTY: I think it's tragic, that the staff members had water with them, and secondly that he was so close to the destination for the evening, which was a water source.

KENNEDY: And you obviously would have given him water no matter how far or close he was.

GARDNER: Well, sure, I would have. I mean, I wouldn't have wanted to assume that kind of liability.

KENNEDY: In an interview with the Associated Press, Bernstein expressed regret over Buschow's death, but said everything appeared normal up until he died. "He seemed capable of completing the hike to the camp that evening." Buschow's mother isn't buying it.

HERBERT: They could have given him water at any time and they did not. At the end when he said could you bring some to me, and he even asked for it, he did not get it. Something as simple as water and my son would be home talking about his trip today.


KENNEDY: A spokesperson for BOSS says Buschow knew how challenging it would be and signed a waiver stating he understood the risks. Nonetheless, the U.S. Forest Service has stopped BOSS from using Dixie National Forest where the incident occurred. Obviously, John, Buschow's mother is seriously considering a lawsuit here.

GIBSON: Did I read in this story today that one of the other participants, like Buschow, could hear water sloshing in the pack of one of the guides and knew that guy had water?

KENNEDY: That's right. There was water with the instructor that was standing by Buschow when he died.

GIBSON: And didn't tell him?

KENNEDY: And he did not tell him. There was water 100 yards away. Everybody's whooping and yelling, "We found the water" and he's yelling, "Give it to me. Can you bring it to me?" and they said, "No, you can make it, you can make it," and he didn't make it.

GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy, thanks very much.

Content and Programming Copyright 2007 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.