Woman says her sister died from Arizona's heat: 'Just lost my baby sister'

An Excessive Heat Warning is back for much of Arizona after an already brutally hot and record-setting summer.

We're on pace to set a grim record with the number of heat deaths. We are learning more about one of those victims.

Christine Larsen's sister, Debra McKnight, recently moved to northwest Arizona from Nevada. Her family says she was struggling with the heat and drinking an unusual amount of water.

She says her sister lived in a trailer and that's where she was found. Her husband says the medical examiner ruled her cause of death as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

She didn't have air conditioning in the trailer she shared with her husband. 

"Someone stole their air conditioner," Larsen said.

Her husband is hoping the community can help give Debra a proper memorial.

"My wife Debra McKnight died on August 11 2023 of extreme heat exhaustion/heat stroke. We need help to cremate her and have a memorial service for her. She left behind a husband and two sons," Paul McKnight said on Debra's GoFundMe.

He called her passing unexpected.

"Hearing the possibility of it being heat stroke was not a surprise. Hearing that I had just lost my baby sister, that was a surprise," Larsen said.

Temperatures across the southwest have broken records this summer with a month of 110-plus degree days.

In Maricopa County alone this year, there have been 133 confirmed heat-related deaths, and another 341 are under investigation. Last year, there were 82 confirmed and 265 under investigation.

Those numbers become personal for families like Larsen's. She says some of her relatives weren't on speaking terms, and now, they'll never get the chance to make amends with Debra. 


Phoenix temperatures will heat up to the extreme once again this weekend

The National Weather Service in Phoenix warned the metropolitan area and parts of south-central Arizona could see potentially record-breaking temperatures this weekend.

Her message to anyone struggling with family drama is to make amends while you still have the chance.

"I have family who now regrets it, and you don’t want that, you don’t want that burden ever," she said.

The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for La Paz, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yuma counties. They will be affected from Aug. 27 to 29.

You can donate to the GoFundMe for Debra here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/debra-mcknights-memorial-service