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Hiker died in high temps at Grand Staircase-Escalante

Published July 23, 2013 9:14 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Denver hiker died in high temperatures just a quarter mile from the trailhead earlier this month in southern Utah.

Cindy M. So, 35, was hiking with a friend July 4 near Spooky Gulch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, according to a press statement by Garfield County sheriff's deputies.

So and her friend, Katie Lewandowski, began hiking about 9 a.m., deputies wrote. About 11 a.m. they were lost but continued hiking another two hours before calling 911. Other hikers on the trail found the women and helped them back toward the trailhead.

So was struggling in the heat, and the group stopped at every patch of shade along the desert trail. Near the trailhead, So and Lewandowski separated from the couple who had helped them.

Despite packing three liters of water plus a 32-oz. bottle of Gatorade, So ran out of fluid about a quarter mile from the trailhead. Lewandowski ran ahead to get water; before she left, So said she was fine but out of breath, deputies wrote.

Lewandowski returned about 30 minutes later to find So mumbling incoherently. The other couple again found the struggling hikers and poured water over So while Lewandowski ran back to the trailhead to call 911. When Lewandowski returned 40 minutes later, So had no pulse and was not breathing. It is not clear from the press release whether the other couple stayed with So. Lewandowski performed CPR for about an hour, until the first responders arrived.

Medics flew So to a hospital in Page, Ariz., but could not revive her, deputies wrote.

The temperature that day was near 100 degrees, deputies wrote.

So is among four hikers to die this year while hiking in high temperatures in southern Utah. Three others died while hiking near The Wave rock formation in Kane County. On Monday, 27-year-old Elisabeth Ann Bervel died while hiking with her husband on their fifth wedding anniversary. Less than a month earlier, Ulrich and Patricia Wahli — 70 and 69, respectively — died of heat exhaustion.




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