Hiker Heat Death

Another hiker has reportedly died from heat stroke in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The fatality occurred near the Kanan Dume-Zuma Ridge section of the Backbone Trail during the hottest part of the afternoon on Labor Day, when temperatures were in the upper 90s. This is the second heat-related death in the park this summer.

The Malibu Search and Rescue Team reported that a 911 call came in at around 2 p.m., requesting aid for two hikers who appeared to be suffering from heat exposure. 

An LA County Fire air ops helicopter was dispatched to Kanan Dume Road at the Zuma Edison Road, but the victim, a man described as being in his late 60s, had already succumbed. 

A Malibu SAR social media post expresses deepest sympathy for the family of the deceased man and states that nearby hikers and SAR volunteers attempted to render aid until the emergency responders arrived, but that the victim had already succumbed to heat stroke. 

Malibu SAR reports responding to four emergency calls in the Zuma Canyon area of the SMMNRA in the space of three hours that day. Eight hikers were rescued and four were treated for heat related illnesses. The post reports that teams responded to four different areas, but it was unclear whether any or all of the hikers belonged to the same group.

This fatality and the one that occurred in August both took place in the Woolsey Fire burn scar, where many trails have lost their tree cover and there is little shade. Both incidents also occurred during the hottest part of the day and during hot weather, while heat warnings were in effect. 

The weather is expected to remain hot over the next week. Hikers should use caution: avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day, bring plenty of water, wear protective clothing, and be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion, including dizziness, cramps, nausea, disorientation, and headache.


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