Backpacker dies in Grand Canyon amid triple-digit heat

Local News

A hiker makes his way back up the Grand Canyon along the Bright Angel Trail on March 17, 2015. Many hikers choose to hike back up the canyon along the Bright Angel trail in Grand Canyon National Park because it has water stops along the way. (AP Photo/Anna Johnson)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. (ABC4) – A backpacker on a multi-day trip in Grand Canyon National Park has died and rangers are blaming the heat.

Rangers were notified of a backpacker experiencing heat illness on the Tonto Trail near Monument Creek Sunday afternoon. At the time, the high temperature in the area was about 115°F.

Michelle Meder, 53, of Hudson, Ohio, was on a trip from the Hermit to Bright Angel Trail.

While hiking down the Hermit Trail on Saturday, rangers say Meder became disoriented and later unconcious.

On Sunday, rangers determined Meder to be deceased with the cause of death believed to be heat-related.

An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

Grand Canyon National Park rangers are strongly advising hikers to avoid the inner canyon between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. as most hikers needing emergency medical help in the canyon due to heat illness hike between these hours.

Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks like heat exhaustion, heatstroke, hyponatremia, and death.

Efforts to assist hikers may be delayed in the summer, according to rangers, due to limited staff, the number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather.

Be sure to evaluate your level of experience and plan accordingly.

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