The triple-digit heat that set a record in Las Vegas Saturday may have claimed the life of a 69-year-old man who got lost in what appears to be a Boy Scout expedition near Arizona’s Hot Springs in the White Rock Canyon area, officials with Lake Mead Recreation Area said.
Clawson Bowman Jr., of Las Vegas, was dead when he was located by searchers at about 3 p.m. Saturday. An autopsy is pending to determine the cause of death.
Another man and four Boy Scouts were rescued nearby after suffering heat stroke in what turned out to be a nearly five-hour search in temperatures that soared to 110 degrees.
The rescue was carried out by the Lake Mead National Recreation Area rangers. Details about the hikers, including how they became lost, how much water they had and what kind of gear they were equipped with.
Park officials said the lost hikers were reported at 1:07 p.m., and throughout the course of the rescue mission, the Boy Scouts kept in touch with dispatchers, eventually leading them to Bowman, who was found one mile from the trail head at 3:42 p.m. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.
The four Scouts were treated by paramedics before they were air lifted to a hospital by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Air Support at 4:59 p.m.
The second adult, whose name was not available Saturday, was found nearly two hours later and had to be put on life support as he was airlifted at 5:54 p.m.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is under an excessive heat warning until 8 p.m. today. Temperatures throughout the park are near or above 110 degrees. Hiking in this heat is highly discouraged.
The Las Vegas Fire Department recorded 16 heat-related calls Saturday and reported that three people, including a child in serious condition, were taken to the hospital with medical conditions that are not considered life-threatening. A high pressure ridge hovering over Nevada has been causing the excessive heat, topping out at 112 at McCarran International Airport on Saturday, setting a new record for June 8, which was previously 111 set in 1955.
The heat wave is forcing locals to choose: Draw the shades and hibernate alongside their humming air conditioners or embrace the heat like life itself and maybe head to the nearest pool.
At Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas, a 2-week-old, 12-acre water park, thousands of visitors lined up as early as 9:30 a.m. to get in at 10 a.m., with the odor of sunblock and chlorine all around.
The approach to the water park on South Fort Apache Road felt more like an outdoor rock concert venue, with orange construction cones, a half-dozen police cruisers and never-ending signs warning that to park in nearby neighborhoods could result in unpleasant consequences.
“It’s a perfect day, and it’s my only day off,” said an elated Efren Perez as he and his 7-year-old daughter, Ellen, beat a path to the turnstyle following the rest of the pitter-patter of flip-flops, their towels in tow, coveted season pass in hand.
Only $70 for year-round entry, the passes have now become somewhat of a coup. They sold so fast a few months ago that general manager Takuya Ohki had to stop issuing them to ensure the water park wasn’t overrun.
“This is the first time that Las Vegas has had a major water park in nine years,” says Ohki, who was born in Hawaii, can hold his own on the surf board and who’s already daydreaming of mid-80 temperatures on the Big Island.
That’s not to say he doesn’t like his job. He’s loves it. He’s just a realist. He has to be, running an oasis in the middle of the baking desert, where mirages really happen and where, for the next couple of months, triple-digit days will be both the norm and the topic of endless discussion.
If you want mid-80s temperatures, you’d better set your alarm clock or body clock or whatever clock you’ve got. The only way you’re going to get that is by waking up about an hour before dawn, said Larry Jensen, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Jensen said there’s a storm brewing about 1,000 miles off Southern California, but no immediate rain is in the forecast, and temperatures are expected to hover in the 100s for at least another week, possibly even two.
And in a dog-eat-dog world of dog-day afternoons, the seasonal signs are already blooming in places like the parking lot at Circus Circus, where gamblers are warned that extreme heat will kill pets in parked cars. Meanwhile, sunblock and Styrofoam coolers are flying off store shelves across the valley.
It’s the type of heat where your car’s ignition switch will burn you and where gloves ease the pain of gripping the steering wheel until your air conditioner revs up.
But as hot as it is in Las Vegas, we can take solace that it was 126 degrees in Death Valley on Saturday, beating the old record for the day by 5 degrees.
Contact reporter Tom Ragan at email@example.com or 702-224-5512.