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Woman dies while hiking The Wave in high heat

Published July 23, 2013 12:00 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An Arizona woman died while hiking in high temperatures to The Wave rock formation in Kane County.

Elisabeth Ann Bervel, 27, was hiking with her husband Anthony on Monday, their fifth wedding anniversary. They had secured hard-to-get permits for the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness hike in a lottery seven months ago, deputies wrote in a press statement.

"They had spent the last seven months preparing for the trip by reviewing the information provided by a BLM informational packet about the hike as well as online reviews by other hikers trying to make sure they were prepared for the outing," according to the statement.

The Bervels began their hike about 8 a.m. and met other hikers along the way. On their hike back to the trailhead, they lost the trail occasionally and spent "a couple of extra hours" hiking during the hottest part of the day, deputies wrote.

"The ... hours in the heat and hiking in the sand took their toll on Elisabeth and her legs finally gave out and she could go no farther," deputies wrote.

Her husband hiked ahead to reach a cellphone signal and called for help. Medics flew to The Wave from Page, Ariz., but she was in cardiac arrest when they arrived. The medics tried CPR but could not revive her.

An autopsy is pending, deputies said.

The Bervels have two sons, 4 and 5, who were with relatives in Arizona.

"This event once again demonstrates the inherent risks associated with hiking in southern Utah's desert country this time of year," deputies wrote. "Even though the Bervels had tried to make sure they were prepared for this hike, the elements proved to be stronger."

Four people have died while hiking in Kane County this year; Ulrich and Patricia Wahli, of Campbell, Calif., died July 3, also near The Wave. Another person died near Hole-In-The-Rock Road south of Escalante, deputies said.

The Wave is a popular photo subject and hiking destination that allows only 20 visitors' permits each day. Ten permits are reserved in advance, and 10 are issued each day in a lottery at the Grand Staircase-Escalante visitor's center in Kanab, Alldredge wrote; up to 100 people have arrived at the visitor's center for a single day's lottery. Last year, more than 48,000 people applied for the 7,300 available tickets.