California hiker dies in Death Valley, heatstroke suspected

Authorities say a San Francisco man died while hiking in Death Valley National Park, where temperatures can be among the hottest on Earth

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. -- A San Francisco man died while hiking in Death Valley National Park, where temperatures can be among the hottest on Earth, authorities said Saturday.

Lawrence Stanback, 60, died Wednesday while hiking near Red Cathedral along the Golden Canyon Trail, according to a joint statement from the park and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. That day temperatures reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 Celsius).

Park rangers received a report of a suspected heatstroke Wednesday afternoon and set out on foot to look for Stanback. He was already dead when the rangers found him, officials said.

A helicopter with the California Highway Patrol tried to fly in to recover the body but strong winds prevented it from landing. Park rangers recovered Stanback's body during the cooler evening hours, they said.

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and Inyo County coroner are investigating the cause of death.

Last month, the National Weather Service said Death Valley recorded a high temperature of 130 F (55 C). Death Valley holds the record for the highest recorded temperature on Earth at 134 F (57 C), set in 1913, although some dispute its accuracy.

Park rangers urged visitors to hike only before 10 a.m. or at high elevations. They also said hikers should stay safe by drinking plenty of water, eating snacks, and staying close to an air-conditioned building or vehicle to cool down when necessary.