Two Europeans die from California heat

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Two European tourists have died from heat exposure in California's Joshua Tree park, US officials said Thursday, calling on visitors to exercise extreme caution during the region's current heatwave.

Music producer Augustinus Van Hove, 44, from the Netherlands, was found dead on Monday, said the local police department. The body of his companion, 38-year-old German Helena Nuellett, was found a mile away on the same road.

"Although the investigation continues and toxicology results are not yet in, at this point there is no sign of obvious injury to either person and the evidence indicates the pair both succumbed due to exposure to the elements," said Raymond Gregory of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The couple had entered the iconic California park shortly after noon Monday. Their vehicle became apparently stuck in sand on a road that officials said was accessible only by an all-terrain vehicle. Empty water bottles were found in the vehicle.

On Thursday, Joshua Tree officials repeated their call for vigilance against the extreme conditions hitting the US southwest this week, with temperatures climbing to a dangerous 46 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit).

"You need to be pretty self-reliant," said National Park Service ranger Joe Zarki.

"There are very few natural sources of water out there. When you're in an enclosed vehicle with the air conditioner going, you don't appreciate the fact that you could be just a few minutes away from an emergency."

© 2011 AFP

3 Comments To This Article

  • Born and Bred. posted:

    on 26th August 2011, 04:48:26 - Reply


    What in the hell does that statistic have to do with anything.

    The two tourists were morons. Disregarding the signs that said you need a 4x4 to continue on.

    2 Less idiots out there now.
  • Chicago posted:

    on 26th August 2011, 04:27:41 - Reply

    How sad.

    There is nothing in Europe to prepare visitors for the dangers of the American southwest or the Mojave in the summer during a heat wave.

    The Netherlands is the 30th most densely populated country in the world, and the most dense in Europe. The USA is 179th in the world.
  • Mojave posted:

    on 26th August 2011, 01:23:19 - Reply

    It's particularly sad to read when this happens to foreign visitors. I live within an hour of this location. It's more like 115-120 degrees these days and when you're standing over sand, the heat reflects back at you making it feel much, much hotter. It really is not a bit of fun to step out of an air conditioned home or car in the desert in the summer which in effect runs until mid October. It's absolutely gorgeous the other seven and a half months of the year though.