Monday, July 22, 2013

27 year old female dies on hike to The Wave

Kane County Sheriff’s Office
Press Release:
9:30 pm

27 Year Old Female Dies on Hike to The Wave
At approximately 2:00pm on July 22, 2013, Kane County Dispatch received notification of a 27 year old female suffering from heat related stress about one half of a mile from the Wire pass Trail Head while returning from a hike to The Wave.  The female, Elisabeth Ann Bervel from Mesa Arizona, was hiking with her husband Anthony Bervel.  Today was a special day for the Bervels because it was their fifth wedding anniversary.   They were looking forward to today’s hike using the tickets they had acquired from the online lottery drawing seven months ago.  They had spent the last seven months preparing for the trip by reviewing the information provided by a BLM informational packet about the hike as well as online reviews by other hikers trying to make sure they were prepared for the outing. 

The couple began their hike about 8:00 am Utah time.  They occasionally met with other hikers making the same trip.  After spending some time at the wave, they began their return trip to the trail head.  They lost the trail a couple of times on the way back, which would have been during the hot part of the day by then, and spent a couple of extra hours trying to find the correct path back to their vehicle.  The couple of extra hours in the heat and hiking in the sand took their toll on Elisabeth and her legs finally gave out and she could go no farther.  Anthony hiked for a ways to find a cell phone signal and made a call for help.

Because of the serious condition of Mrs. Bervel, a medical helicopter was dispatched from Page Arizona to fly directly to the scene.  A Kane County Sheriff’ Deputy and an ambulance from Big Water Utah were also dispatched to respond by ground.  When the helicopter arrived, Elisabeth was already in cardiac arrest.  They tried performing CPR, but were unable to revive her.

Elisabeth’s body was transported by the Helicopter to the Kanab Utah Airport where it she was transferred to the care of Mosdell Mortuary under the direction of Sheriff Smith who is the Medical Investigator for Kane County.  The body will be transported to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office in Salt Lake City.  The cause of death is still under investigation.

The Bervels have two sons ages 4 and 5 who were with family in Arizona.

This event once again demonstrates the inherent risks associated with hiking in southern Utah’s desert country this time of year.  Even though the Bervels had tried to make sure they were prepared for this hike, the elements proved to be stronger.  This makes 4 hiking related deaths this summer in Kane County.  Three of those deaths have been in close proximity on the trail to the wave, and the fourth occurring at another popular hiking spot off of the Hole in the Rock Road south of Escalante Utah.  The ages of the deceased have ranged from 27 to 70 years of age.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Two dead at The Wave

News Release:
Sgt. Alan Alldredge
Kane County Sheriff’s Office
6:30 pm
Two Found Dead Near The Wave
At about 8:45 am on 7/4/13, Kane County Dispatch received a call from some hikers who were returning from a hike to “The Wave” near the Utah/Arizona border.  They had located the body of an elderly female who was deceased a short distance off the trail.  The Wave is a popular hiking spot that only allows 20 permits each day.  10 of the daily permits are issued on the internet several months ahead of time.  The other 10 are issued by a lottery at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument visitor’s Center in Kanab Utah.  Some days 70 to 100 people will show up for the lottery for the available 10 tickets for the next day.  Last year over 48,000 individuals applied for the 7300 available tickets.
Sheriff Lamont Smith, who is a medical investigator for the state medical examiner’s office, and Deputy Brent Smith flew from the Wire Pass Trailhead on the House Rock Valley Road in a helicopter from Classic Helicopters in Page Arizona.  After documenting the scene, the body was flown by sling from the site to the trailhead. 
On the return trip to the scene to pick up the sheriff’s Office personnel, the helicopter located what appeared to be another body about 250 yards away from the first.  The second body was also investigated and flown back to the trailhead. 
Ulrich Wahli, age 70, and his wife Patricia Wahli, age 69, had permits to hike to The Wave on Wednesday July 3.  Mr. & Mrs. Wahli are from Campbell California. They would have been hiking in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees.  It is believed that they passed away during the afternoon on Wednesday July 3rd.  Patricia was lying under a tree as though she was trying to find some relief from the heat, or may have been feeling ill.  Ulrich may have been trying to get to help when he was also overcome by the heat. 
The bodies will be transferred to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office where we may be able to learn more about the possible reasons for the deaths.
This is a difficult time of year to be hiking in the Wire Pass area of Kane County.  Add that to the high heat we are experiencing right now, and it makes for a lethal combination.  If you must hike, it is best to do it early in the morning, and make sure you have enough water and supplies.