Death Valley tourist dies walking for gas in extreme heat that hit 123 degrees

Officials say that the high temperatures hindered search for David Kelleher

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 16 June 2022 18:07 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A Death Valley National Park tourist died after walking for gas for his car in sweltering high temperatures that hit 123 degrees.

Park officials say that David Kelleher, 67, was found more than two miles from his vehicle but only 30ft from California Highway 190.

A ranger first noticed the car parked at Zabriskie Point, a popular spot to watch sunrise and sunset, on 8 June.

The same ranger then noticed that the car had not been moved three days later, and upon inspection found a note that read “Out of gas” inside it.

Officials say that the extreme temperatures limited search efforts for Mr Kelleher, who was from Huntington Beach, California.

The National Park Service says that he had been cited for off-road driving on 30 May and had told a ranger then that he was low on gas.

“Kelleher’s body was found by park visitors around 2pm on June 14. Kelleher was about 2.5 miles from their vehicle, but only about 30 feet from California Highway 190, obscured by terrain and a mesquite tree,” NPS said in a statement.

They advise visitors that during periods of extreme temperatures they should stay with their vehicle and wait for assistance.

It is not the first death in the park, which straddles California and Nevada, this month.

John McCarry, 69, of Long Beach, was found dead in Panamint Valley on 1 June. And in May, a vehicle belonging to Peter Harootunian was found abandoned in Emigrant Campground. He has not been found.

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