They Ran Out of Water. He Shielded Her With His Body

Rescuers find couple huddled in Joshua Tree amid triple-digit temps last weekend
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2024 7:30 AM CDT
Rescuers Find Hikers Who Ran Out of Water in Joshua Tree
This still image from video shows two hikers lying on the ground as rescuers were dispatched to the Ladder Canyon Trail in Mecca, Calif., to assist them on on Sundau.   (Riverside County Sheriff's Office via AP)

A couple hiking in the desert south of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California was rescued after running out of water, authorities said. On Sunday, the man called 911 and reported that his girlfriend was dehydrated and weak, according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff's Office posted Monday on social media. A search and rescue helicopter crew was dispatched on June 9, when temperatures reached triple digits, to the area known as Painted Canyon and found the couple huddled in a dry creek bed, the office said.

A video posted online by the sheriff's office shows the helicopter hovering above the couple lying on the desert floor, with the man trying to shield her with his body from the blazing sun and wind, per the AP. The man and woman were then hoisted into the helicopter one by one. The couple was flown to a landing zone, where an aeromedical helicopter rushed the woman to a hospital "due to her severe condition," according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit's Rescue 9 post.

The man was transported to a local hospital by ambulance, the sheriff's office told SFGATE. The deserts of Southern California are among the hottest areas in the state. On June 9, weather stations near the Painted Canyon area saw highs ranging from 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service. "Please remember as the temps increase, take more water than you think you will need, have a hiking plan, and tell two people where you are going," the sheriff's department advises.

(More Joshua Tree stories.)

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