Death of boy at Death Valley ruled accident

CORRECTION -- 08/14/09 -- Stories in Tuesday’s and several other editions of the Review-Journal gave an incorrect age for the boy who died in Death Valley National Park on Aug. 5. Carlos Sanchez was 6 years old.

The death of an 11-year-old boy stranded in Death Valley National Park last week has been ruled an accident by the coroner's office in San Bernardino County, Calif.

Carlos Sanchez died from "dehydration over days due to exposure to high environmental temperatures," coroner's spokeswoman Sandy Fatland said.

There were no signs of trauma, she said.

The boy died Wednesday, one day before rescuers found his mother's Jeep Grand Cherokee stuck in a collapsed animal burrow in the park's remote southwestern corner.

Distraught and severely dehydrated, Alicia Sanchez was flown by helicopter to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. She was discharged from the hospital Sunday.

The two set out from Las Vegas with their dog on Aug. 1 for what was supposed to be an overnight camping trip in Death Valley.

Park spokesman Terry Baldino said Alicia Sanchez brought enough water to last them about two days.

The woman failed to tell anyone exactly where they planned to camp or for how long.

The boy was dying or already dead by the time the two were reported missing Wednesday evening by family members in Ohio.

It took park rangers until late Thursday morning to locate Sanchez's Jeep, which was stuck on an unmarked path near the end of a 30-mile dirt road that can go days or even weeks without a single vehicle during the summer, Baldino said.

The boy's death was the third heat-related death in the national park, 100 miles west of Las Vegas, this year.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean or 702-383-0350.