BIG BEND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – A hiker was found dead at Big Bend National Park Tuesday, according to a release from park officials on Wednesday afternoon.
Officials say 54-year-old Richard Merrill of Friendswood, died while hiking on the Marufo Vega Trail. The investigation began when park officials noticed a vehicle parked at the trailhead with a note that detailed Merrill’s hike, according to the release.
Park officials say temperatures reached dangerous levels during the day and posed a risk to hikers and park goes alike. After locating the note, Park Rangers began their rescue operations as temperatures cooled down and eventually located Merrill about a quarter mile off the train, according to a release.
However, officials say due to the rugged terrain and heat, rescue operations were conducted Wednesday with the help of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss and would like to extend our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Merrill,” said Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “The environment of Big Bend in the summer is, sadly, unforgiving. We urge all hikers to be sure they are prepared for the summer desert conditions so they are able to return home and safely visit Big Bend again. I would also like to extend my thanks to the hard work of the search and rescue team under these extreme conditions, as well as to our Border Patrol partners for their assistance.”
Park officials are also reminding park-goers to use extreme caution when visiting the park during high temperature days.