Hiker Dies in Apparent Heat-Related Incident on Santa Cruz Island
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725
On Friday, October 16, 2009, a 49-year-old man died of what appears to have been a case of heat stroke following a prolonged hike in unseasonably hot weather on Santa Cruz Island within Channel Islands National Park.
Thomas Pruner, of Lake Forest, California, took a 14-mile hike from Prisoners Harbor to Scorpion Campground on Santa Cruz Island along with a group of male friends. The group of four hikers started their trek at approximately 11:00 a.m. in record high temperatures reaching up to 94 degrees, terrain with little shade, and virtually no wind.
Per his hiking partners, Pruner exhibited signs of fatigue early in the hike and experienced increasing difficulty throughout the day. He was assisted the last couple of miles to their destination in Scorpion Valley campground arriving at about 5:00 p.m. Upon arrival he began seizing and shortly thereafter became unconscious and unresponsive.
Prior to their hike, rangers provided Pruner and his group a general safety orientation that included information about staying hydrated while hiking on the island. They were advised to carry more water given the extended length of their hike and the hot conditions. They were each carrying approximately two liters of water at the start of their hike.