Motorcyclist Dies as Record Heat Hits Death Valley

Motorcyclist Dies as Record Heat Hits Death Valley

Signage warns of extreme heat danger at the salt flats of Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park on June 17, 2021, in Inyo County, California. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin


Updated: 7/8/2024


A sweltering heat wave has caused record-high temperatures in some parts of California and contributed to the death of a man riding a motorcycle in Death Valley on July 6.
The motorcyclist was riding through Death Valley National Park on Saturday with a group of five others when he died of heat exposure near Badwater Basin, an expansive salt flat at the south end of the park and the lowest point in North America.
Another rider in the party was also treated for severe heat illness and transported to a medical center in Las Vegas. The remaining four motorcyclists were treated and released onsite, park officials reported Sunday.
The Inyo County Coroner’s Office is still trying to reach the man’s family to notify them of his death, according to Deputy Coroner Margot Vega.
“We’re still investigating,” Ms. Vega told The Epoch Times. “We’re not releasing any information at this time.”
Temperatures reached a record daily high Saturday of 128 degrees at the park, located about 220 miles northeast of Los Angeles on the border of Nevada. It surpassed the previous record of 127 degrees set in 2007, according to park officials.
“High heat like this can pose real threats to your health,” said Death Valley National Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “While this is a very exciting time to experience potential world record setting temperatures in Death Valley, we encourage visitors to choose their activities carefully, avoiding prolonged periods of time outside of an air-conditioned vehicle or building when temperatures are this high.”
Heat illness and injury can build over the course of a day or days, according to park officials.
Riding a motorcycle through the park when temperatures reach as high as they did Saturday can be worse for motorcyclists that wear safety gear to reduce injuries, officials added.
Park officials recommend avoiding hiking, especially at lower elevations, during the ongoing heat wave, and to wear lightweight clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and carrying a sun umbrella.
They also suggested drinking plenty of water and eating salty snacks.
Other California cities that have broken records during the heat wave include Redding, reaching an all-time high of 119 degrees Saturday, and Palm Springs, which reached 124 degrees Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
The City of Sacramento also hit a new record Sunday of 113 degrees, beating the 1989 record of 105. Stockton also reached a record 111 degrees, besting the old record of 106 in 1905.
Excessive heat warnings and a heat advisory issued by the weather service remain in effect the next several days for most of the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills.
“Very hot temperatures will continue ... especially for the deserts and mountains,” the San Diego office of the weather service posted on X Monday. “Make sure to continue to practice heat safety, stay hydrated, and avoid strenuous activity outside during the hottest parts of the day!”

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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