ST. GEORGE – A Belgian man was found dead in the Wave in Kane County Monday night following the report of a lost hiker. Authorities believe the cause of death to be heat-related.
Around 7:05 p.m., Monday, a woman staying at a hotel in Kanab called authorities to report that her partner, 49-year-old Christophe Pochic, and their 16-year-old son had been hiking the Wave, Kane County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Alan Alldredge said in a statement released Tuesday.
The woman reported that her son had called from the Wave and said he had become separated from Pochic. The teen, who made it out of the Wave, told responders that his father had become disoriented and wanted to hike in the wrong direction.
Kane County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Wire Pass trailhead and a helicopter from Classic Aviation joined the search.
Pochic’s body was found around 9:15 p.m. by Bureau of Land Management rangers.
He reportedly had been in good health with no medical issues. Investigators at the scene determined his death to be heat-induced.
His body was taken to an area mortuary before being transported to the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office in Salt Lake City.
“Temperatures in Kane County had been extremely hot the last few weeks and we expect them to continue into August,” Alldredge wrote in the statement. “By early afternoon, the slick rock areas around The Wave can prove to be deadly because of extreme heat.”
Within the Wave there’s really no place to find shade and when the rock heats up under the sun, hikers are getting heat from the sun above and the rock below, Alldredge told St. George News over the phone.
In cases like this, having water on hand, while always encouraged, won’t help much due it getting heated along with everything else, he said, noting Pochic had been found with water on him.
Hikers to the Wave are encouraged to hike in early and get out early to avoid the extreme temperatures.
“Our thoughts are with the family of Mr. Pochic at this difficult time as they return home to Belgium,” Alldredge wrote.
Like Pochic, those death were also believed to have been heat-induced.
The lottery system allowing a limited number of hikers into the Wave has been in place since before the 2013 deaths, Alldredge said. Since then the BLM has implemented a system in which employees and volunteers act as guides for a hiking party if requested. Others monitor the trails through the Wave and also supply water to hikers.
While this system has worked well since 2013, Alldredge said there will still be instances where “someone slips through the cracks.”
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