Tragedy struck in New Mexico after a French couple died while hiking in the desert. Police rescued their 9-year-old son after discovering pictures of the boy on his mother’s camera.
Ornella Steiner, 51, and David Steiner, 42, of Bourgongne, France, died while hiking in White Sands National Monument on Aug. 4. An investigation by the Otero County Sheriff’s Office revealed the pair died from heat exhaustion.
“They underestimated the elements,” Detective David Hunter told AFP.
Park rangers discovered the mother's body during a routine patrol. On her body was a camera, which officials used to find out she was hiking with her husband, David, and their son, Enzo.
After following tracks left by the father and son, they discovered David’s body 30 minutes later. Enzo was close to his father's body.
Enzo was dehydrated but still conscious. He was taken to hospital to be treated for his condition.
Temperatures that day had been above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The French consulate has since been contacted to address the issue.
Sheriff Benny House told reporters the family had been on a trip traveling across the U.S. He went on to say that the boy told officials the mother had began walking back toward the car after falling ill during the hike. He continued on hiking with his father, unaware his mother had died.
“I don’t think he realized his mother was dead,” Sheriff House told NY Daily News.
According to Patrick O’Driscoll, spokesman for the National Parks, the trail the family was hiking has no shade or water.
House told reporters the parents had given Enzo most of their water supply, and Enzo said his mom and dad had “taken one mouthful, while they made him take two.”
“Perhaps that’s why he came out of it alive, because he is smaller and probably drank more water than them,” House told the Alamogordo Daily News.
The boy’s grandfather flew to the U.S. from France and took custody of the boy on Aug. 6.