Motorcyclist dies on ride through Death Valley during sweltering heatwave

A man died from exposure to a record heatwave while visiting Death Valley National Park in California on Saturday.

National park officials said in a press release that the man was a part of a group of six motorcyclists driving through the Badwater Basin in the park.

‘If you warm up and never properly cool down, your body doesn’t get a chance to reset.’

“Yesterday it was 128 degrees, which was a record high for that day in Death Valley,” said park ranger Nichole Andler, “and these folks were traveling through on motorcycles, and most likely they didn’t have adequate cooling.”

One of the six motorcyclists was declared dead at the scene while four were treated for heat illness. One of those was later sent to a hospital for treatment of “severe heat illness,” according to Andler.

The heat also prevented an emergency helicopter from responding to the incident. Officials had warned prior to the incident that the high heat thins the air and makes it dangerous for helicopters to maintain the lift necessary to fly.

At least one person dies every year from the heat in Death Valley, according to officials. The park reported that a 65-year-old died in July 2023 when the temperature reached 126 degrees, and another person, a 71-year-old hiker, died a few days later when the temperature reached over 120 degrees.

“Folks get excited about experiencing the warmest temperatures that they’ve ever experienced before, and sometimes they forget that if an hour ago they were hot and started to feel nauseous, then they need to spend the rest of the day in air conditioning — because that could be the earliest sign of heat illness,” Andler said.

“If you warm up and never properly cool down, your body doesn’t get a chance to reset,” she added.

Despite the warnings, other visitors gleefully took photographs in front of the famous Death Valley digital temperature indicator.

“Death Valley during the summer has always been a bucket list thing for me. For most of my life, I’ve wanted to come out here in summertime,” said Chris Kinsel, a visitor from Las Vegas, Nevada.

The heatwave affecting the southwest region of the U.S. has resulted in record-high temperatures for Palmdale and Lancaster, both in California. Palmdale’s temperature hit 114 degrees after setting a previous high of 110 in 1989, while Lancaster hit 115 degrees after previously reaching 110 in 2017.

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