Father and Son Hikers Die in Stifling National Park

Robert Stuart Pluta, 57, and Bobby Pluta, 21, were found dead earlier this week
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2017 5:54 AM CDT
Father and Son Die Hiking in Extreme Heat
An entrance to a cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.   (Getty Images/ yenwen)

The heat wave scorching the western US likely played a role in the death of a father and son from Texas. Robert Stuart Pluta, 57, and son Bobby, 21, set off on a hiking trip in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico Thursday. The first of the men's bodies was found four days later, around 10pm Monday, hours after Lillian Pluta reported her husband and son missing after failing to reach them over the weekend and learning they hadn't check out of their room, KRIS reports. A second body was found on Tuesday morning about a mile from the first. The Plutas' red Ford truck was found at the Rattlesnake Canyon trailhead about 4pm on Monday and a search commenced, the Current-Argus reports.

Temperatures in the park have topped 100 for nearly a week, and heat was likely a factor in their deaths, state police say. The Plutas, experienced hikers, were on a "father-son bonding trip on Father's Day weekend," family pastor Mark Behrendt tells KRIS. "This was something that they had looked forward to." A park spokeswoman tells the Current-Argus, "We have pretty extreme temperatures here. You need plenty of water. Dehydration happens quickly." The extreme heat was blamed for the deaths of a 72-year-old man and an 87-year-old woman in San Jose, California, NBC News reports. The National Weather Service says to "expect no significant cooling through Sunday." (The heat wave is proving to be too much for aircraft in Phoenix.)

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