They thought they could beat the heat by leaving early for their trek to the Arizona Hot Springs.
But on Saturday, when temperatures hit a record high of 112 degrees in Las Vegas, the scorching heat struck earlier and harsher than the group of Boy Scouts ever anticipated, leaving one person dead, one severely ill and four Scouts stranded.
The Scout leader, Clawson Bowman Jr., 69, died from a heat-related illness suffered during a hike on Saturday, according to Christie Vanover, spokesperson for Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Bowman was with a hiking group of nine others, including seven Boy Scouts between the ages of 10 and 17 and two adults, in the Arizona Hot Springs area, about four miles southeast of Hoover Dam.
“It’s just a tragic day for our scouting family and the church family that this group came from,” said Shane Calendine, Scout executive with the Boy Scouts of America, Las Vegas Area Council.
Calendine said the troop was with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but he didn’t know the specifics.
The group planned to start their trek early, well before they thought the heat would become a dangerous factor. According to Lake Mead park ranger supervisor Mark Hnat, the group arrived at the hot springs about 9 a.m. But the temperatures spiked, hitting triple-digits shortly before 10 a.m.
As intense heat bore down, they decided to make their way back. But the temperatures continued to wear on them.
Disoriented, the group broke up. Bowman, along with four of the Boy Scouts, took a different route to get back to the White Rock Trailhead, located near Highway 93.
A 39-year-old man with the hikers, who was not identified, went to search for Bowman’s group. But he began to suffer from heat stroke, the park service said.
The four Scouts were three miles past the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bypass Bridge near Hoover Dam with better phone reception when calls were made, Hnat said. Bowman was at a lower point with no phone reception.
“We were fortunate the boys had cell- phone signals,” said Vanover, noting that the area seldom has good reception.
A search for the men and the Scouts began at 1 p.m. when the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office reported that the boys were lost near the hot springs. The National Weather Service estimated temperatures in the White Rock Canyon area hit 115 degrees Saturday afternoon.
At 2:21 p.m., the Lake Mead officials received another call reporting that two men were suffering from heat stroke, park rangers said.
Rangers made contact with Bowman at 3:21 p.m. about a mile from the trailhead. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Mohave County Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death.
The other man was located in the area about 20 minutes later. He was provided advanced life support care until he was rescued by air about 6 p.m.
The Boy Scouts maintained phone communication with officials at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area throughout the search. They were located by Las Vegas police air support at 5 p.m.
“Fortunately, the young men (who) were there stayed calm and kept in communication with rescue,” Calendine said.
According to Vanover, the group did have water with them when they were found, but she said it was not clear how much water was left.
All four Boy Scouts were safely transported from the area by Metro Air by 5:30 p.m. They were treated by paramedics at the trailhead, Hnat said.
“We’ve got the kids back along with the other adults. That’s the first step,” Calendine said. “Our prayers go out to the Bowman family.”
Bowman was a managing partner at Bowman FDA Regulatory Consulting Group, a firm that provides clinical consulting services to pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech companies.
Bowman received a law degree from Western State University and a bachelor’s degree in pre-med from Brigham Young University.
Heat is always a summer threat for the Scouts and their outdoor activities.
“Weather and conditions are something that all of the groups should consider when they go out on any activity,” Calendine said. “We all just have to be careful in high-temperature conditions such as this.”
Lake Mead officials urges people to take caution if they choose to go hiking when temperatures soar as they did on Saturday.
“We don’t recommend it at all,” Vanover said.
Contact reporter Steven Slivka at email@example.com. Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638. Follow him on Twitter @clochhead44.