Illinois father and two sons freeze to death during hike

KANSAS CITY, Missouri Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:33pm EST

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - An Illinois man and two of his sons died from exposure to freezing temperatures during a weekend hike in the Ozark Mountains in southeast Missouri, authorities said on Monday.

Rescue crews found David Decareaux, 36, and sons Dominic, 10, and Grant, 8, on a rocky bluff Sunday morning, Reynolds County Sheriff Tom Volner said.

The father was pronounced dead at the scene and the boys later died at a hospital, Volner said.

Decareaux, his wife and five children of Millstadt, Illinois, were staying at an Ozarks lodge, Volner said. They were experienced hikers, he said.

"It's just a tragic loss," Volner said. "It's really hard when you lose half of a family like that,"

The cause of death was hypothermia, said Jeff McSpadden, Reynolds County Coroner. When the three hikers left Saturday morning, the temperature was in the 50s and they were dressed in light outerwear, he said. Rain moved into the area and temperatures plunged to the mid-20s overnight.

"I guess they didn't think about the weather coming in and were not dressed for the cold," McSpadden said.

A motorist saw Decareaux and the boys in the rain early on Saturday afternoon and asked if they wanted a ride but the father declined, Volner said. The trio was reported missing about nightfall, he said.

A search by about 50 law enforcement officers, firefighters and others on foot, horseback and in vehicles failed to locate the lost hikers. The search was scaled back after midnight because of rapidly rising creeks and flash flooding, Volner said.

The trio was found on Sunday morning on a bluff on the trail, Volner said. They had missed a turn that would have returned them to the lodge, he said. CPR was performed on the boys and they were transferred to a hospital, but died, he said.

A four-month-old Labrador dog, who was on the hike, survived, Volner said.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher, Greg McCune and Carol Bishopric)

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Comments (6)
AtypicalMale wrote:
I disagree with the thought that “They were experienced hikers”. A truly experienced hiker would have been monitoring the pending changing weather conditions… and, in particular, once they were subjected to being caught in the rain, the father SHOULD have taken advantage of that offered ride, getting them out of those conditions.

I used to work with a fellow who possessed a ‘he man’ attitude who mocked my comments about the true dangers of hypothermia. People need to educate themselves as to the degree to which our bodies can be, and are, affected by adding moisture to the equation of falling temperatures… unfortunately, not doing so, as this story shows, can prove to be deadly.

Jan 15, 2013 9:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mb56 wrote:
These kinds of unnecessary tragedies are such a shame – especially when kids are involved and at the mercy of an irresponsible parent. They may have been “experienced” hikers… but they certainly weren’t responsible ones. A responsible hiker would never leave on a mid-winter hike so poorly prepared for a weather change. Such a shame.

Jan 16, 2013 2:21am EST  --  Report as abuse
Doc62 wrote:
Sad unecessary loss of life. The dog was better prepared and survived. I am an experienced hiker. Hello? It’s winter! I’ll hike 6 mls crosscountry this pm, alone. My pack contains a compass. swiss knife, rope, tarp rainsuit, extra fleece, yak traks, snacks and water. I wear wicking on my skin. Sure, I get warm quick, so I remove a layer & stuff into pack. Stop to photo a bald eagle and put back on layers.
Boy Scout Motto: BE PREPARED!

Jan 16, 2013 11:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
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