Man Found Dead After Running out of Gas in Death Valley

The man's body was found more than 2 miles from his vehicle in a heat wave that has sent temperatures past 120 degrees.

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Image: David Becker (Getty Images)

While most of the country has been hit by a heat wave, it’s been especially hellish here in the west. Death Valley has seen temperatures of 120 degrees nearly every day the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that extreme heat has taken a life: news outlets are reporting that a man was found dead in Death Valley after he apparently ran out of gas and went on foot to find help.

The man was identified as 67-year-old David Kelleher from Huntington Beach, CA. According to park officials, Keller had been seen in the park on May 30th. Park rangers encountered Kelleher and cited him for unapproved off-roading. During the encounter, Kelleher apparently mentioned to the park ranger that he was low on gas.

Nine days later, on June 8th, Kelleher’s car was seen by a park ranger in the parking lot for Zabriskie Point by a park ranger. It was the only vehicle there. Three days later, on June 11th, the same ranger noticed Kelleher’s vehicle hadn’t moved. A crumpled note inside the vehicle read “out of gas.”

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A search for Kelleher was begun, though nobody had reported Kelleher missing. The heat in Death Valley was so intense that ground and air teams were limited in how long they could search for Kelleher, and where. A heat wave caused temps to soar to a dangerous 123 degrees.

Sadly, on Tuesday, June 14th, a group of park visitors found Kelleher’s body. It appears he was going for help as his body was found 2 ½ miles from his vehicle, and just 30 feet from state highway 190, according to park rangers.

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This is the second death in Death Valley in the last couple of weeks. On June 1st, the body of 69-year-old John McCarry was found in Panamint Valley after a two-day search.