SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - A Rhode Island woman was found dead on a Scottsdale hiking trail Sunday night after investigators say she separated from her husband on the trail earlier in the day.
57-year-old Donna Miller was found around 9 p.m. by Maricopa County Mountain Rescue Team members after her husband alerted police that she didn't meet him at their meeting spot around 3:15 p.m.
They started the hike around 12:30 p.m. in the Brown’s Ranch hiking trail system.
"Scottsdale Police Department detectives are working with the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death, which appears to be due to heat related illness and environmental exposure," Scottsdale Police said.
Hikers, city officials react to the woman's death
"These trails out here are relatively easy, they’re relatively flat, not super hard," said Scottsdale hiker Kim Hay. She was saddened and surprised to hear about the death of Miller on the trail.
As an experienced hiker, she points out two rookie mistakes that she believes were made.
"It's unfortunate people from out of town start so late and then you never split up, you never ever split up on a hike," Hay advised.
Scottsdale Fire deputy chief Adam Hoster says, "It's just a dry heat, but your body is just not used to it. Temperatures can just jump up on you."
Scottsdale seeing more rescue calls on mountains
The number of mountain rescue calls the Scottsdale Fire Department has responded to this year so far, has more than doubled.
"This year we’ve ran 15 technical rescue calls, versus last year we ran about 6," he said, adding, "Since Phoenix implemented their extreme heat advisory where they close down Piestewa Peak and Camelback, we have seen a little increase of mountain rescue calls."
He says the department may be looking into similar shutdowns in the future during extreme heat days.
Evan Gammage with the Phoenix Fire Department said their pilot program that shuts down popular hiking trails in Phoenix during extreme heat days not only makes conditions safer for the public, but for first responders as well.
For more information:
- Some Phoenix hiking trails to close on extreme heat days from July 16-Sept. 30
- Hiker recalls seeing woman who died hiking with off-duty Phoenix officer on Camelback Mountain
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