Couple who died while hiking likely saved son's life through selfless act

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Couple Who Died While Hiking Likely Saved Son's Life Through Selfless Act


A French couple is dead but their selfless decision to give their son two sips of water for every sip they took in the tortuous heat of the desert likely saved the 9-year-old's life.

David and Ornella Steiner died along a trail inside White Sands National Monument in New Mexico last Tuesday.

Their selfless actions kept the boy in decent enough condition, though he was treated for dehydration and heat exposure by authorities. His parents were declared dead from heat exhaustion pending autopsy results.

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White Sands National Monument
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Couple who died while hiking likely saved son's life through selfless act
This March 2014 photo shows contoured patterns in the endless white sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The park offers other-worldly scenery, bringing to mind a blizzard or a beach when in fact it is a desert. (AP Photo/Giovanna Dell'Orto)
Sunset falls over sand dunes, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in White Sands National Monument, N.M. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The sun sets over sand dunes, Thursday, March 5, 2015, in White Sands National Monument, N.M. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
New Mexico, Las cruces, Heart of the Sands, Transverse Dunes and Yucca Plants, White Sands National Monument. (Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
White Sands National Monument, NM. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1900: New Mexico, United States - White Sands National Monument. (Photo by Francois LE DIASCORN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
New Mexico, Las cruces, Heart of the Sands, Transverse Dunes and Yucca Plants, White Sands National Monument. (Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
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At some point on the trail, the mother took ill and said she needed to return to the car. The father and son kept on until the father became disoriented and collapsed. The boy stayed with him until park rangers arrived.

Park officials suggest taking at least one gallon of water per person on a hike and only to begin hikes during the cooler times of day.

The family set out at around 1 p.m. when temperatures neared 101 degrees and only had two 20 ounce bottles of water between them.

French consular authorities were immediately notified of the deaths.
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