White Sands National Park officials found an abandoned and unoccupied car within the park at 11 p.m. on July 4. A rescue team discovered a man’s body off-trail the next afternoon, the National Park Service said.
New Mexico State Police identified the man as Jeffrey Minshew, a 63-year-old from Moriarty, New Mexico. The incident is under investigation.
“During the extreme summer heat, it is critical to be prepared and know your limitations,” park officials said in a news release. “For summer hiking at White Sands, the park recommends starting in the coolest part of the day, early morning or early evening.”
Volunteers with the Organ Mountain Technical Rescue Squad spent hours searching for the man’s footprints on Monday. Once rescue officials located the footprints, they tracked them for a half mile before finding the body.
White Sands National Park and its never-ending sand dunes encompasses 275 square miles of desert. There is no shade or water along trails at the park, according to the National Park Service. Hikers should be prepared with food and water, a fully charged cell phone and know where they are.
“Each year, park rangers respond to dozens of search and rescue incidents in the park,” park officials said. “These frequently involve heat exhaustion, dehydration, and injuries.”
During the summer, temperatures can rise above 100 degrees during the day. Over the weekend, the high temperature reached at least 94 degrees.
“We also recommend that hikers bring at least one gallon of water per person per day and high energy snacks,” park officials said. “Wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and long pants to help protect skin from the sun.”
The national park is about 95 miles north of El Paso, and also sits next to the White Sands Missile Range, where testing for the first atomic bomb took place in 1945.