An 11-year-old boy died in the intense heat of America's Death Valley National Park after he and his mother became stranded in one of the world’s most inhospitable areas and survived for several days on bottled water, Pop-Tarts and cheese sandwiches.
Nurse Alicia Sanchez, 28, was found severely dehydrated and remained in hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, a day after being found with her dog, her dead son and a Jeep Cherokee buried up to its axles in sand.
She told rescuers in California’s San Bernardino County that her son Carlos died on Wednesday, days after she fixed a flat tyre and continued into Death Valley, relying on directions from a GPS device in the vehicle.
“It’s in about as remote and isolated an area as you can find,” Death Valley National Park Chief Ranger Brent Pennington said. “How she got to that point I don’t know.”
Mr Pennington said Ms Sanchez was found by a ranger who followed tyre tracks off a dirt road into the Owlshead Mountains near the China Lake Naval Air Station, just inside the south-west corner of the vast national park near the California-Nevada border.
The chief ranger said family members in the Midwest described Ms Sanchez as a nurse who recently moved to Las Vegas and was working at a Las Vegas hospital.
Summer temperatures commonly run above 49 degrees in Death Valley.
Officials said Ms Sanchez and her son set out last Saturday on what was to be an overnight camping trip. There were conflicting reports about when they became stranded.