A Friendswood man died Tuesday while hiking in Big Bend National Park in west Texas, according to the National Park Service.

Officials believe his death was caused by the unforgiving environment in the park.

Richard Merrill, 54, of Friendswood, was found dead on a park trail Tuesday evening, according to the park service.

Merrill had gone hiking alone on the Marufo Vega Trailhead, officials said.

He left a note in his car detailing a plan to hike from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and asking for park rangers to be notified if he hadn’t returned by then.

Temperatures reached as high as 106 degrees on Tuesday with 17 percent humidity, according to the parks service. The conditions can quickly cause dehydration and heat illness, according to the parks service.

Merrill’s body was found a quarter mile off a trail on Tuesday evening. It was recovered by a helicopter crew Wednesday.

“The environment of Big Bend in the summer is, sadly, unforgiving,” said Bob Krumenaker, the superintendent of Big Bend National Park.

“We urge all hikers to be sure they are prepared for the summer desert conditions so they are able to return home and safely visit Big Bend again.

“I would also like to extend my thanks to the hard work of the search and rescue team under these extreme conditions, as well as to our Border Patrol partners for their assistance.”

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


(1) comment

Doug Sivyer

I'm sorry but no one has any business hiking by them selves in 106 degree Texas heat. Call me cold but that's just dumb.

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