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French Couple Dies Hiking Desert Trail in New Mexico; Son Survives

Image: French Couple Dies Hiking Desert Trail in New Mexico; Son Survives
Footprints on Alkali Flat Trail in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. (Kojihirano/Dreamstime.com, file)

By    |   Monday, 10 Aug 2015 09:54 AM

A French couple died last week while hiking at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, but their son survived after they decided to give him the majority of their water.

"That may be why he fared so well, as he was a lot smaller and probably had twice as much water," said Otero County Sheriff Benny House, according to The Independent U.K. "He was well hydrated, compared to the other two."

David Steiner, 42, and Ornella Steiner, 51, were found dead on different parts of the national monument's Alkali Flat trail, a 4.6-mile-loop, after 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

David Steiner and the couple's 9-year-old boy were found 2,000 feet ahead of Ornella on the trail. After finding a translator, the boy related the tale.

His mother, he said, became exhausted during the hike, and headed back to the trailhead. She apparently only made it 300 feet before collapsing. The boy and his father continued on another 2,000 feet, unaware of the mother's collapse.

Along the way, the boy said that his parents had been giving him two sips of water for each one they took from their two 20-ounce water bottles.

Two park service employees on patrol soon found the mother dead in the white sands.

"They were trying to figure out why she was on the trail by herself," House told CNN.

On her digital camera were photos of her husband and son at the trailhead, so the patrol extended its search. Roughly 45 minutes later, they found the boy alive next to his dead father.

"He wasn't crying," House said, but "he was dehydrated and of course he was upset."

The family is believed to have spent four and a half hours on the trail in temperatures that reached a high of 101 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday.

The Steiners' deaths were the third and fourth in the park in the past decade.

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A French couple died last week while hiking at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, but their son survived after they decided to give him the majority of their water.
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2015-54-10
Monday, 10 Aug 2015 09:54 AM
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