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Second Heat-Caused Fatality This Summer in Death Valley

August 31, 2016

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif A search on Sunday by multiple agencies concluded when a woman's body was found 5 miles from her vehicle. It appears that this is the second heat-caused fatality in Death Valley National Park. Both fatalities were in the southern end of the park near the unpaved Harry Wade Road.

Harry Wade Road Attribution: Stan Shebs

On Sunday, August 28, at approximately 1:11 p.m., deputies from the Barstow Sheriff's Station responded to a report of a missing person in the area of Old Spanish Trail near Baker, California. Pi-Wei Hung (age 40) was driving from Las Vegas, Nevada to Fort Irwin, California. Hung had not been heard from since August 27, 2016, at approximately 1:10 p.m., when she was in the Charleston View area of Inyo County.

Personnel from San Bernardino County, Inyo County, Fort Irwin National Training Center, and the National Park Service, along with two helicopters, responded to the remote area to search for Hung. At 2:30 p.m., Hung's vehicle was found along Harry Wade Road in Death Valley National Park. It appears that she may have gotten the vehicle stuck in loose sand in the berm while attempting to turn around.

Hung walked about 5 miles, away from the road. Her body was found at approximately 4:57 p.m. It appeared Hung passed away from heat exposure, according to the San Bernardino County Coroner's office. The day's high temperature was 113F.

This is the second heat-related fatality in Death Valley National Park this summer. On Thursday, June 9, park visitors found a deceased motorcyclist on Harry Wade Road. Reinhard Egger (age 60) was a German citizen. The man's motorcycle was parked upright and was still functional. According to Inyo County Coroner's Office, Egger died from overheating. It was 118F that day.

Death Valley's summer temperatures can quickly turn life-threatening. Cell phones do not work in most of Death Valley National Park, so travelers are safer if they stay on paved roads that are more frequently traveled by other visitors. Visitors and area residents are advised to always carry plenty of water in their vehicle. If a vehicle becomes disabled, travelers should wait with their vehicle until assistance arrives. The vehicle provides shade and makes it easier to be found.

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