PHOENIX — A 16-year-old Boy Scout who collapsed last month on a troop hiking trip at Picacho Peak State Park died of dehydration and overheating, an autopsy shows.
Joshua Michael White’s April 27 death was an accident, the Pinal County medical examiner said in a report released this week to The Associated Press.
The autopsy said White was 6 feet tall and weighed 289 pounds, which was listed as a “significant factor” in his death. He had no known other medical issues. His obituary said he belonged to the junior varsity football team at Estrella Foothills High School in Goodyear, a suburb west of Phoenix.
The medical examiner’s report said the boy reportedly drank 2 quarts of water while climbing the peak and another 2 quarts on the way down. The small group of scouts hiked for six hours on a day when temperatures reached 96 degrees.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office initially said the Scouts had water when they set out but ran out at the top. The park’s website recommends that hikers each carry at least 2 to 4 quarts of water.
After White died, his family said in a statement released through the Boy Scouts that the teen loved scouting and that he, the other troop members and their leaders were all experienced hikers and “fully prepared” for the outing.
White’s fellow hikers called 911 after he collapsed, but the teen was unconscious when a park ranger arrived, sheriff’s deputies said. They said paramedics also evaluated two adults and one child for exhaustion, but they did not need to go to a hospital.
Outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the park’s hiking trails that offer spectacular desert views. In the springtime, seas of wildflowers explode in the shadow of the distinctive 1,500-foot Picacho Peak, located near Interstate 10 and visible from many miles away.
There are several trails leading to the top, ranging from moderate to difficult.
White was on the Sunset Vista Trail when he began feeling ill. The hardest section of the 3-mile trail is the last part to the top that climbs a steep and twisting route with steel cables anchored into bare rock surfaces.