MOAB, Utah (KTVX) — A 66-year-old man from Austin found dead Aug. 1 in Arches National Park was there to spread his father’s ashes, according to his family.
James Bernard Hendricks, of Austin, is believed to have died of heat stroke during a hike along the Sand Dune Arch Trail, his sister, Ruth Hendricks Brough, told the San Antonio Express-News.
“He was loved by countless people because he was an unusually kind, sweet person who made friends easily,” she told the outlet. “Now all these people are grieving. It was a horrible shock.”
Rangers from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office went looking for Hendricks after he was reported overdue to return from his hike and found his car in the parking lot. Hendricks’ body was found off-trail nearby, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
The quart water bottle that Hendricks brought with him was empty, Brough said, adding that rangers believe he died from a mix of heat, high altitude and dehydration.
The Sand Dune Arch Trail is an easy, 15-30 minute hike that takes visitors “through deep sand to a secluded arch tucked among sandstone fins.” The trail also connects to the moderately difficult Broken Arch Loop Trail, which takes about an hour to complete.
An investigation into this incident is currently being conducted jointly by NPS and Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
Brough told San Antonio Express-News that Hendricks had embarked on a trip he called “Last Journey With My Father,” and was scattering his father’s ashes before he died. He was scheduled to finish the trip in Reno, Nevada, where his father lived much of his life, Brough said.
There have been several deaths in Arches National Park this year, including the most recent incident in May of 2023 when a 69-year-old man died while hiking the Devil’s Garden Trail.