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Hiker Succumbs To Apparent Heat Stroke

Channel Islands National Park

National Park News

On Friday, October 16th, a 49-year-old man died of what appears to have been a case of heat stroke following a prolonged hike in unseasonably hot weather on Santa Cruz Island. Thomas Pruner, of Lake Forest, California, went on a 14-mile-long day hike with some friends from Prisoners Harbor to Scorpion Campground on Santa Cruz Island. The four men started their trek at approximately 11 a.m. in unseasonably hot conditions (record temperatures reaching up to 94 degrees) along terrain with little shade and no wind. According to his hiking partners, Pruner exhibited signs of fatigue early in the hike and experienced increasing difficulty throughout the day. He was assisted the last couple of miles and became unconscious and unresponsive shortly after 5 p.m. upon arrival at the Scorpion Valley campground. Immediate care was provided by an off-duty fire captain, a kayaking guide, and NPS maintenance and volunteer staff. The response lasted for almost an hour and included the use of an AED and CPR. The island protection ranger provided guidance and communications via radio, as she was several miles away. A Ventura County Sheriff’s Department helicopter was dispatched and flew to the island to provide EMS support and transportation. Paramedics continued with resuscitation efforts for close to 30 minutes. Pruner was declared deceased at 7:30 p.m. A ranger provided Pruner and his group a general safety orientation upon their arrival the day before, which included information about staying hydrated while hiking on the island.  They were met by another ranger the day of the incident and again given a safety briefing and advised to carry more water.  They were each carrying approximately two liters of water at the start of their hike.


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