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Probable Heat Related Death on Bright Angel Trail

July 14, 2005

Grand Canyon, Arizona - A 28-year old man collapsed and died on the Bright Angel Trail yesterday at approximately 5:00 p.m. Avik Chakravarty from England and a hiking companion started a rim to river to rim hike yesterday at approximately 7:30 a.m. The two started their hike on the South Kaibab Trail and had hiked to Phantom Ranch near the Colorado River. At Phantom Ranch they talked with a National Park Service (NPS) Interpretive Ranger and were advised not to begin their hike to the rim until later in the evening due to the extreme temperatures. The temperature at Phantom Ranch in the shade yesterday was reported to be 113 degrees.

Despite the advice the two hikers began hiking back to the South Rim on the Bright Angel Trail by mid to late-afternoon yesterday. They were approximately three miles north of Phantom Ranch in an area known as Devilˇ¦s Corkscrew when Mr. Chakravarty collapsed. His hiking partner then hiked up to Indian Garden, which is located approximately two miles north of where Chakravarty collapsed, to report the incident. He arrived at approximately 5:30 p.m.

National Park Service Search and Rescue Rangers arrived on scene at approximately 6:00 p.m. Mr. Chakravarty had already passed away.

His body was recovered and flown to the South Rim this morning and will be transported to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Park Rangers suspect Mr. Chakravarty died from heat related illness. An autopsy will be performed later today to confirm cause of death.

This is a tragic reminder that a rim to river to rim hike in the middle of summer when temperatures are well above 100 degrees in the inner canyon, can be extremely dangerous,¨ stated Ivan Kassovic, an Inner Canyon Ranger at Grand Canyon National Park. He added, ˇ§the rim to river to rim hike the two had planned was approximately 17 miles. The NPS strongly discourages rim to river to rim, and rim to rim hikes during the summer when temperatures are extreme. Yesterday, a temperature gauge within the rescue helicopter logged a temperature of 120 degrees at 6:00 p.m. near the recovery site.¨

To avoid trouble, the NPS suggests, planning your hike well before starting; hiking during the cooler, shadier times of the day; eating salty foods and drinking water or sports drinks; and to go slowly, resting often in the shade.

Park Rangers warn of the "Danger Zone" which is a combination of distance traveled, elevation, temperature, and direct sunlight that can easily overwhelm the body's ability to keep itself cool, fueled, and hydrated.

Emergency situations can be avoided by knowing how to avoid the following hazards:

"Heat Exhaustion is the result of dehydration due to intense sweating. Hikers can lose one to two liters of water per hour. Rangers at both Phantom Ranch and Indian Garden treat as many as 20 cases of heat exhaustion a day. Symptoms include: pale face, nausea, cool and moist skin, headache, and cramps. Treatment: drink water, eat high-energy goods, rest in the shade, and cool the body.

"Heatstroke is a life threatening emergency where the body's heat regulating mechanisms become overwhelmed by a combination of internal heat production and environmental demands. Grand Canyon has two to three cases of heatstroke a year. Symptoms: flushed face, dry skin, weak and rapid pulse, high body temperature, poor judgment or inability to cope, unconsciousness. Treatment: find shade, aggressively cool victim with water, and send for help"

"Hyponatremia is an illness that mimics the early symptoms of heat exhaustion. It is the result of low sodium in the blood, which is caused by drinking too much water and losing salt through sweating. Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, altered mental states, and frequent urination. Treatment: have the victim eat salty foods. If mental alertness decreases, seek help"

High temperatures are expected to continue in Northern Arizona and in the inner canyon until the monsoons arrive.


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