Hiker found dead at Death Valley

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A hiker died from a fall at Death Valley National Park this week, according to park officials.

Rangers received a call on Monday, July 16 from a woman who reported her fiancee was overdue in returning from his trip.

Rangers found the vehicle belonging to the hiker, identified at 57-year-old Peter Rhoad, at the Panamint Dunes trailhead, but did not locate him, according to a report by the National Park Service.

On Tuesday, search and rescue crews began looking for Rhoad again. They found his backpack less than a mile away from his car and his body about 2,500 feet away.

The Inyo County Deputy Coroner conducted an autopsy and determined Rhoad died of a skull fracture caused by a fall compounded by exposure to the elements. 

The temperature at the trailhead likely exceeded 115 degrees the day Rhoad was reported missing.  

Park rangers do not recommend hiking at low elevations in Death Valley National Park during the summer due to excessive heat.

NPS has provided the following information for those visiting the 3,400,000-acre national park:

People driving or hiking in remote areas should communicate their plans to a trusted friend or family member.  That person should have detailed information about the hiker’s plans. The hiker should commit to a time that he or she will be back in cell phone coverage and check in with the friend. If the hiker misses that check-in time, then the friend will report them overdue and request a search.

Rhoad’s fiancee did provide rangers with a list of hikes he planned on doing which helped narrow the search area. 

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