A tragedy in the Ozarks


Sometimes you read a story that breaks your heart. This is one of those stories, courtesy of The Associated Press.

A Missouri family went vacationing in the Ozarks over the weekend, and the father, 36-year-old David Decareaux, took two of his sons out for a hike. The boys were 8 and 10 years old.

They set out Saturday morning on the Ozark Trail in temperatures of 60 degrees. The father, described as an experienced hiker, was wearing a light jacket while one son was wearing a fleece and the other a sweater.

The weather changed mid-hike, with 2 inches of rain falling and temperatures dropping into the 40s. About three hours into their hike and with weather conditions deteriorating, a passerby spotted the three and offered them a ride to their cabin. The father declined, saying they could make it back OK.

One report says the three may have made a wrong turn and gotten lost in the dark. When they didn’t return, a search party was sent out. The three were found dead Sunday morning, the cause of death thought to be hypothermia.

Overnight temperatures had dropped into the 20s. When you combine that with rainsoaked clothes and no real way of keeping warm, the outcome was almost certain. Only the family dog, who was with the three, survived.

I’ve hiked and run trails solo plenty of times, and there are times where I know I could have been more careful. But I try to make sure folks know where I am and when I’ll be back and be prepared for the conditions.

I don’t want to play Monday morning quarterback, but I’ll offer this. If you go out on such a hike, be dressed for potential weather contingencies. Check weather forecasts. Take a pack that has things like adequate food, water, clothing layers, a first-aid kit and a way to start a fire. Have a map of where you’re going. And if you have people with you, make sure they are adequately prepared as well.

These are deaths that didn’t need to happen. Adequate clothing by itself may have saved them. Enjoy the outdoors and the elements they throw at you. But respect them by being prepared.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088


4 thoughts on “A tragedy in the Ozarks

  1. What a tradgedy. It is always a good idea to have a little something with you. I keep an old Mylar blanket from a race in the trunk of my car. It doesn’t take up much room, would be in the trash otherwise and might be useful someday.
    But we’ve all made bad moves.

    • Indeed. I’ve made my share of backcountry mistakes, and have had other mishaps occur that were out of my control. Preparedness always mitigates stuff like that. Fortunately, none of those mistakes or circumstances cost me my life. But it sure helped reinforce lessons that I’d been taught in the past.

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