Man found dead in Death Valley National Park ran out of gas

  1. If you must leave, snap off the rear view mirrior. It can be used to signal aircraft, and can also be seen as a flash of light at the horizon line to signal anybody in the area.

  2. I grew up in Arizona. To help out people traveling through the desert. Always have water and have more water than you think you need.

  3. Staying near his car would’ve still ended the same way sadly. It was 120 degrees and it took 3 days for a park ranger to find him. The only way he could’ve survived was proper shelter that wasn’t a heat trap like his car and enough water to survive through the heat.

  4. I just went through there three days ago. There are signs everywhere saying stay with your vehicle when in trouble. Also, Zabriskie point and then visitors center are both on the most popular road of the park. This guy really must have fucked up every single possible decision he had to have this be there result.

  5. They should probably start checking gas tank levels at park entrances too only admitting people with full or almost full tanks.

  6. This is incredibly sad. His vehicle was found at one of the most popular viewpoint parking lots. I hike Death Valley a lot, and yes, there's an unimaginable amount of desolate wilderness. But at the popular viewpoints, you're bound to see a Wrangler or an SR5 at least every couple hours and those guys are always carrying extra gas and water. Always, always stay with your vehicle.

  7. Yeah. There’s something sketchy about this story or this guy. Even on hot days, he was at the most visited viewpoint along the most traveled road in the park during summer. And then he didn’t walk on the shoulder but 30’ from the highway? He wasn’t trying to get help. And, cited for off road around Dante’s View? Dude wasn’t all there to begin with.

  8. I live in the desert and I don't even drive to the grocery store without all of the above. I once got in an moderately bad accident in August, and just waiting in the street for first responders almost took me out from heat exhaustion. Thankfully someone from a business nearby brought out some water to us, but I've never left the house without water since.

  9. Years ago, some friends visiting from Belgium insisted on taking a trip to Death Valley… in August. We stopped at a store and each of them bought a couple of water bottles. They were perplexed when I went back in and bought an ice chest and 5 gallons of water, a tarp, rope, flares, and some more food. They made fun of the cautious American. Sure enough, our car overheated and was stuck on a side road. They were happy for the shade from the tarp and the extra ice and water. Luckily someone came by and took us to a ranger station, but we had been waiting for 2 hours in 120 degree weather. This American was not so dumb after all.

  10. Also don’t fucking walk in the middle of the day. If you absolutely must walk, cover as much of your body as you can and walk at night. Hole up during the day.

  11. Spare fan belt, if your car has one. I've rescued two families stranded on the side of the road with broken fan belts. (Toss a couple tire inflators in the trunk, no matter how much the tire guys hate cleaning the tires later. No idea why desert roads have so many nails and screws on them.)

  12. Having lived and worked in the deserts of the Great Basin, I had a whole kit that stayed in my car for desert driving.

  13. Also, I've never had one compass app that worked properly. A real compass in your car could be vital, and you can buy them for like five bucks.

  14. I went to Namibia for my honeymoon and drove 2000 miles in two weeks. We refueled at almost any gas station, had two spare tires, water and biscuits, two cellphones with offline maps, and the lodges ahead were expecting us. The roads were ultra empty (three hours to find someone going the opposite direction) but never did I get the temptation to leave the road.

  15. I lived near Death Vally 20 years, this is the shit only drunks, druggies, and tourists end up doing. You can leave your car, just stay on the road. You don't need gallons of fuel and water, just watch the road signs like 'last gas station for 50 miles'. And you always stop if it's hot and someone is broken down. Armed, at least a knife, because humans are worthless monsters. But you stop and check on them.

  16. Exactly this! I was driving a Uhaul truck from TX to AZ a few years back and very specifically recall seeing a sign (a Highway Administration sign, mind you. Not an advertisement) that said something along the lines of "Now entering (name) valley area. Next gas station/travel center in (close to 300) miles. Please turn back for fuel and provisions now if you are unsure of your provisions".

  17. im in Golden Canada, right now. unless you go to visitor center or rental with wifi, you are not getting anyuse out of your phone. even with offline maps, so many detour not listed. i believe cell in death valley also spotty. locator beacon would probably help

  18. You can do everything right and then BOOM, coyote out of fucking nowhere, radiator cracked aaaaaand you've overheated the engine.

  19. I drove through a section of desert in Utah a few years ago that went for over a hundred miles without any kind of services. No gas stations, no towns, no cell phone reception, fucking nothing. Thank god my '94 vehicle was in good condition. Be safe out there.

  20. He'll, last desert I drove across was just the part of the Great Basin in Eastern Oregon. I saw the sign that said "Next services 120 miles" and immediately turned around to the nearby store, topped off with fuel, bought four gallons of water and stocked up on granola bars... just in case.

  21. Also let people know where you are... AND MAKE SURE THEY'RE WILLING TO ACTUALLY CALL IF YOU DON'T CHECK IN.

  22. Every single time I have made the drive even on just the freeways, cars overheating and people without water. Now when I drive I usually have a case of bottles for drinking and another 5 gallons for car, plus antifreeze. I never use it, but it is always used and needed. It hit 130 range a few times, you really need a kept car to make it safely.

  23. Growing up, my parents refused to drive through Death Valley unless It was night time. Every year, we would just chill and go catch a movie till the sun went down before we’d leave. I never understood why. Also, it’s the only place I’ve ever “heard” silence. It was deafening. And the stars are insane

  24. Yep. Water, coolant and one of those self-starting jumper boxes (brought inside occasionally to top off charge) is what I keep in mine.

  25. You don’t need antifreeze in the desert. Water would suffice but be sure to swap it out before next freeze cycle.

  26. I once picked up this teenage boy who was walking along a service road in Nevada while I was on the highway. I saw the kid and had no idea where he had come from or where he was going.

  27. Reminds me of that family of German tourists who ditched their car and disappeared in the nineties. I think they found the adults ten years later but never found the kids. Death Valley don't play.

  28. I remember my dad telling me as a little kid about deaths like this in Death Valley. He gave me all sorts of safety tips (full tank of gas, carry lots of water and some food, car in working order, tell people where you’re going and when you should arrive, etc) as though I would somehow end up stranded in a desert hundreds of miles away as an 8 year old.

  29. They didn't ditch their car, they had a flat tire I believe. And the kids were found a couple years later. The writeup of that search was haunting.

  30. Always take a large container of water when traveling anywhere, but especially in the desert. You can survive without food for days, but water is essential. Emergency kits are available everywhere, so that is also a great to keep one in the vehicle.

  31. A couple years ago I drove through Death Valley on my way back from a work trip in Vegas. I was on 190 going West with less than an eighth tank of gas when I saw a sign indicating that there was a gas station up ahead. Well apparently I turned too early for some reason and wound up on Panamint Valley Road going south. About 20 miles later I'm thinking to myself "man, this gas station is pretty far, but then again it's Death Valley, buildings are sparse as it is." So I kept driving until I realized that I must have missed the turn or read the sign incorrectly. My car's digital dash panel (not the fuel gauge itself) said I only had 10 miles of fuel left and the gauge itself was on E. I stopped on the side of the road, pulled out my phone, and saw a gas station 30 miles down the road on Google Maps. I started to panic. No gas, no cell phone service, no cars on the road to signal for help.

  32. I used to live about 30 min from the Panamint Valley. Place is no joke. No fuel unless you are in Valley Wells or Stove Pipe Wells.

  33. So true: if you rent an RV from anywhere, ALL of their emergency roadside-service agreements explicitly exclude Death Valley during these months. They will straight up ignore you until the RV is out of the valley, even if the breakdown was totally the rental company’s fault (preventable mechanical failure, etc) and unrelated to being in Death Valley.

  34. I went in February! At hot springs. It was a gorgeous 80 degree dry heat and sunny, and I was visiting from New York. Then we got pummeled by a sand storm which was no joke and pretty miserable but also pretty amazing at the same time.

  35. The US Army National Training Center is at Fort Irwin, CA. This borders death valley and yeah, its hot as hell. There are some interesting rules like you must have long sleeves and pants or you simply burn (and I assume catch fire). Also, they tell you this a LOT, "If your vehicle ever breaks down, do NOT leave it, and do NOT walk towards the light". The light is Las Vegas, over 200 miles away, but you can see it on the horizon. Its easy to find a car, but its pretty tough to find a person.

  36. Didn't realise you could see the lights from Vegas from that far away, but it makes sense with how bright it is, and how desolate the surrounding land is.

  37. What's also fun is people think they are safe in winter, because you know, desert. They are not. It gets below freezing at night, and you can die from that as well.

  38. This... isn't true, even back in 2001. It is about 350 miles between Barstow and Flagstaff, but in between you have Ludlow, Needles, Kingman, etc. that have all existed with gas stations for decades.

  39. At NTC, we had just finished a grueling training session, so I laid down in some shade to catch some sleep while waiting for the trucks to get us. Well, I must have slept for 3-4 hours, and the funny thing about the sun is that is moves in the sky, so I was baking in the sun, asleep for like 2 hours. When I woke up, I felt super drunk. Good thing the medic was nearby, because it only took 3 IVs for me to be really sick, but not dying.

  40. First time I went to the US from Europe I ended up driving through Death Valley. Having grown up in Europe I had never been more than a few minutes away from the next person and didn’t think much before heading out to death valley.

  41. Nevadan here. If you're ever going to be traveling regularly or for a long period of time in the desert, bring a ridiculous amount of water. I do a lot of trail running in the desert and I keep a minimum of 5 gallons in my car in case things go south. I should honestly probably raise that amount to at least double. It's too hot. And I don't mean just in the sunlight or when its daytime or that the heat makes everything dry and you need to drink more water. I mean it as in a lot of times the LOW temps at night are above 80 and sometimes above 90. When this happens, your body can not regulate temperatures anymore. Human bodies are such that we need cooler night time temps to be able to regulate temps going further.

  42. One time I bicycled forty miles in the desert west of Vegas in ~105 degree heat. I drank a gallon of water. Didn’t pee. At all. Shorts and shirt were dry the entire time. Meaning: I sweated close to a gallon of liquid, and it evaporated as fast as my body could put it out.

  43. I'm surprised the man is from California. I grew up in the east coast and moved to California for undergrad. One of the things that surprised me was the realization that you need to keep emergency supplies in your vehicle, because there are stretches of highway that are so isolated that if your car breaks down you could die. The east coast doesn't have that. No matter where you are, you can get to some civilization if you have to.

  44. He’s from Huntington Beach which is a very suburban area. It’s quite far from the stretches of road near nothing you’re taking about.

  45. I'm not surprised. I'm from California and you would be surprised how many people have never camped, been to a forest, or even seen snow. Let alone been to the desert, which is less appealing to most

  46. Also the East coast doesn’t have many places where you just straight up die if you’re outside for a few minutes too long

  47. In Louisiana I don’t carry anything in my car either, it’s so weird. Common sense that different places have different necessities but still remarkable. In LA, I worry a lot about water. Constantly driving on bridges over marshes, swamps, lakes, etc.

  48. Trust me, the east coast has a lot of unused forest roads where you could get very confused and misled. Many mountainous regions also with few roads and no service. I keep an emergency *kit in my car as well.

  49. Conversely, if you are driving on the East Coast you need a machete. I didn't know we had rain forests in the US. But if you see a house you may need to hack through some jungle to get to it.

  50. Grew up in nevada and always traveled with water and food and gear. Lots of places without phone service where you won't see a car for hours. Live in a place where things are much much closer together now and even if I travel a half hour away to the next city I've got some water and power bars, a hat, sunscreen, painkillers, tp, phone charger and more n my little car cooler. People laugh at me and tell me there are stores and im not packing for the apocalypse but I wouldn't feel okay going anywhere outside of my city without supplies.

  51. I know it’s expensive but try and have plenty of gasoline while driving through a valley of death.

  52. Man that guy must have had some insane amount of bad luck. I know the area pretty well and it's hard to imagine, despite the cruel and unforgiving temperatures, that somebody would not have been able to find help between Zabriskie Point and Furnace Creek.

  53. I don't get this. Zabriski Point parking lot has toilet facilities. It's visited by a good proportion of the people that come through Death Valley. There would have been numerous opportunities to ask someone for a ride or to siphon some gas or to ask help from a visiting park ranger. Seems like this guy died of impatience.

  54. Once drove from Winnemucca NV to Lakeview OR through the black rock desert. Looked it up and its one of the longest stretches at the time in the US between two gas stations, like 3.5 hours or so. Which most cars can make that no problem, but you never know what will happen. It kinda freaked me out, so we bought an extra gas container and took it with us just in case.

  55. My dad used to take this route a lot with me and my little brother when we were kids when we would visit my grandma in Palm Springs. No practical reason, just because it made him feel adventurous or something like that. In a vehicle that broke down multiple times on road trips and needed obscure foreign parts to fix. What the heck dad lol

  56. My experiences with lake patrol and game wardens have been like this too. They seem more interested in just making sure people are safe than trying to fuck with you

  57. Reminds me of Natchez Trace in Tennessee. A lot of people get routed onto it if there are big delays but you will have to drive like 10-15 the whole way because there are millions of deer in that park and they hand around the roads because tourists feed them.

  58. The guy was just braindead stupid though. His car was in a parking lot of one of the most famous viewpoints in Death Valley. The parking lot has a full service toilet and has tons of cars that come and go through it all day.

  59. I know that road. Was in the area at least, taking hwy 95 N then heading NW on 140 to SE Oregon. From what I researched, that stretch between Winnemucca to Lakeside OR through the black rock desert is one of the longest stretches you can find in the country between gas stations. It was strange and eerie. We took extra gas but luckily didnt need it.

  60. It's entirely likely that the ranger did ask the guy about water. I wouldn't assume fault on the ranger, it seems more likely that the guy who made a mistake twice is the one who failed his due diligence in all cases.

  61. I wonder if he was off roading because he was trying to find a quicker route before he ran out of gas. The park ranger shouldn't have brushed it off when he said he was low on gas. Trying to walk out of death valley in 120 degree heat is a killer.

  62. My family and l were there in l think 1983 it rained so hard l was panicking trying to find high ground in case of a flash flood.

  63. I can’t believe this happened in survival valley, oh never mind it happened in Death Valley which makes perfect sense.

  64. I will never understand why many people drive around with their cars fuel tank near E. It's really not worth the risk even in regular circumstances to run it till its dry cause of all the time, effort, and damage you can cause to your car if you run out.

  65. Visitors of national parks seriously underestimate that these are wild regions. Honestly it’s kinda ruined the major parks. You can’t walk around Yosemite or Grand Canyon without seeing stories of people who died in x spot because they weren’t being safe. As an avid hiker and backpacker it’s just not enjoyable.

  66. I’ve driven that distance many times and it’s practically impossible to miss all the signs saying that THIS IS THE LAST GAS STATION FOR HUNDREDS OF MILES. When we would stop to take a break out in that heat, it’s like stepping into an oven. What a miserable death.

  67. It says he was almost out of gas on May 30th, and they found him on the 14th (if im doing the math right) and it reached over 120 deg. there

  68. A couple month ago there was a Redditor who for some reason drove out into the desert and ran out of gas and luckily was able to flag someone down for help. Like, he fucking drove off road into the desert in a sedan. He got VERY lucky.

  69. Furnace Creek gas currently sitting at $9.22/gallon for the cheap stuff, so wondering if that played a role. It's not like gas isn't available there, you just have to pay up.

  70. One rule, you live because of one rule. I have been through there many times. Never never drive into this park unless the tank is FULL. Thanks for attending my TED talk.

  71. My SUV vapor locked in DV. 128 degrees. Took about 20 minutes before two minivans pulled over to check on me. The group of 6 guys all worked for GM (?) and were running performance tests on their vehicles to collect data.

  72. yeah my gf and I drove through Death Valley on a road trip last summer, there’s one gas station for like 100 miles and it was upwards of 6 dollars

  73. Zabriskie point is also one of the most trafficked and recognizable tourist spots in Death Valley. And not that far from Furnace Creek, one of the major population centers with full services. By no means saying he was right to try and walk. On the contrary if he had stayed with his car someone would 100% have come by before long.

  74. Furnace creek has a gas station doesn’t it? So that makes some sense. I wonder if he didn’t get gas earlier because DV prices are always steep. Very sad.

  75. Some regular hiker here, in Arizona I don’t know how many times I indirectly saved lives of hiking enthusiasts by sometimes even lying. Otherwise a couple from Tennessee think that they can just hike thru Arizona Sun with a 32oz water bottle where I come across them at 9 am as I’m finishing my 3 hour hike which they are just starting. Once I found a guy sitting by the trail directly under the sun and when I asked him what he was doing, he said he is waiting on his friend whom went off the trail to see a rock formation up close. These folks either don’t know how terrible it can get so swiftly or it is an informed suicide attempt. I know you know already but “None of those experiences is worthy enough to risk your life”

  76. Zabriskie Point is crowded as hell for sunrise. No way he was there then, he would have had dozens of photographers to help him.

  77. From the Zabriski Point parking lot to Furnace creek is 3.6 miles. He was literally just 1 mile from help when he died.

  78. Yep. Got a flat tire in DV last year and like 10 people instantly wanted to help. I personally would not go off the beaten path. I was nervous to go because of stories like this but there's a ton to see there where you'd never be alone.

  79. Im from LA and always wanted to go check it out but to scared of being lost. Do you know of any good website on how to tour or visit death valley safely?

  80. I rode my Harley across Death Valley a few years back during a cross country solo trip and it was around 115 degrees. I was keenly aware how close to danger I was. The bike is air cooled. I kept my speed around 50 max to avoid over heating. I kept a water bottle between my legs that I kept taking small sips of. I only stopped once on the side of the road for a quick pic. I keep the motor on. I knew heat stroke was also a concern in my black Tshirt. I tried to tilt my body toward the sun to minimize the surface area facing the sun. I'm my mind I was ready to pull out my tent ASAP if I suddenly broke down for shade. Cars passing by the other way were pretty infrequent.

  81. Been to DV numerous times, there is frequent enough cars driving by where you can try to signal for help. It's not that isolated.

  82. I used to drive through Death Valley on my cross country road trips. Before entering that stretch without anyone and no cell reception, I would stop and check everything in my car. I always thought about that...what if I broke down out here? Scary.

  83. Sad and absolutely preventable. If you are stranded, you stay with the vehicle. If you are in an area that nobody would feasibly find you, you wait until nightfall and then you go. Also, this is why you always carry emergency kits with rations and water anytime you are in a park.

  84. my family camped out in Death Valley in August on a vacation once when I was a kid. it was so hot out that in the evening we had sandwiches and the bread turned to toast while you ate it. there's that old idea that it's actually cold in the night in a desert but when it's well over 100 out it takes forever for it to drop below 90 again.

  85. Do *not* go to that place unprepared, especially in the summer. Bring extra everything and expect intense heat, regardless of the time of year. Plan your trip, and if you dip below half a tank, head to a station. Better safe than sorry.

  86. That 200mi stretch from 29palms to Vegas, through kelbaker… phones don’t work, no service or phones. Always sketches me out lol

  87. On taking a business trip to California from Las Vegas, my GPS decided the fastest route was to roll through Death Valley instead of taking the main highway towards LA.

  88. Some years ago at Badwater, my rental car temp displayed 125. Walked out on the salt flat and could only handle <20 minutes before returning to the car. Exposed skin was stinging/cooking.

  89. This is going crazy because of gas prices, right? This isn't anything new. This happens all the time. I mean, sad story, don't get me wrong, but every one of these when it happens is a sad story.

  90. Its not that far from Zabrisky to Furnace Creek, and tons of cars go through there every day if he had just stayed on road or asked for help. Maybe other issues going on, medical, etc.

  91. 20 years ago I went to Death Valley on a week vacation. Ended up spending 4 days in the back country around Butte Valley instead of wandering the entire park. When I pulled out Sunday afternoon I was low on gas, and each of the gas station icons on the paper AAA maps led me to stations that had just closed for the day. A connector had rattled out of the back of my dash so the gauge wasn't working.

  92. Could we create drones that navigate the routes to notify of broken down vehicles? They could charge at solar powered stations out of reach of people and more or less be completely automated.

  93. This is a great idea. Related: Another reason that satellite internet is a great idea too. There should be a law that requires satellite internet to be free to connect to for emergency calls.

  94. Dude was at probably the most popular lookout in the park, if he'd just stayed with his car (or in the toilet block there where it's cooler) he'd have been found alive.

  95. I'm late to these comments but just read the article on another site. For anybody who hasn't been to Death Valley, there are parts of the national park that will warn you the distance to the next gas station. There are signs that will say "Last Chance, next gas station 210 miles." The price for gas at that station might be expensive, and numerous cars might be waiting for fuel, but the decision to fuel up or not is literally life and death.

  96. Never been there, but it seems like a bad place to be soloing at that age. In fact it seems kind of like a bad place to solo at any age.

  97. Zabriskie point is only about 5 miles from Furnace Creek, where help would have been available. That might be the most well traveled stretch of road in the park. He made it about halfway. People do not appreciate the dangers of extreme heat.

  98. I’ve been to and driven through. I understand completely how this can happen. It’s a cool experience and all, but man is it a long haul. And tempting to take the little trails

  99. When traveling in remote areas,especially if extreme weather is likely, always make sure you have a full tank of gas, water, and snacks. During winter, carry chains, water, a blanket, food, one of the small hand warmer packets. Always carry a first aid kit and flashlight.

  100. Lots of great comments here about survival tips but let's be clear, this guy was close to 70 years old and from the story, a little eccentric or maybe even ill. I'm an RN and have seen how little reserve you have at this age. Your kidneys don't work as well, your brain doesn't work as well, it's much much easier to become disoriented when you are older when you are even slightly sick and I've seen people in their 60s with a minor infection act like they had full on dementia. We obviously don't have his medical history but the real story here is an eccentric elderly man died in the desert. He ran out of gas after being warned earlier that he was going to run out of gas... I don't think he was a dumb suburbanite or a cocky city slicker .. just my take.

  101. It’s an aptly named “National Park” because it’s highly inhospitable to human life. No developer ever saw a 55 + community springing up there. Even genocidal madman Prez.Andy Jackson wouldn’t move indigenous people there.

  102. I hate how 80% of reddit turns this thread into a competition to see who can leave the lamest “punchline” comment. With like half of them thinking they’re clever for pointing out the name of Death Valley. Fuck off, you idiots. This man died in a horrible way.

  103. Reminds me of the guy whose car broke down, he was found by some tourists and decided to go back to his car again instead of waiting for someone else to pick it up the next day because he could fix it himself.

  104. When I was a kid we did a cross country road trip and I remember pulling up at the gas station at 5:02, they closed at 5:00 guy standing there would not sell us gas because they closed at 5. We ended up camping the night and it was the worst night of camping I’ve ever experienced and I’ve had some pretty shit nights in Boy Scouts.

  105. I have thing if I'm traveling long distance in a desert I have to have at-least a 24 pack of water. This might not have saved him because of the heat but it could have helped.

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