(27 July 2005, California) Robert, 35, was eager to hang out with the
nudists at the Palm Springs campground, in a part of Death Valley where
temperatures reached 136 degrees. The track was rough but passable until
he was lured into the Saline Mud Flats by the deceptively dry appearance of
its crackled surface, radiating heat in the baking sun. Within a few feet,
the wheels of his VW microbus sunk deep into the muck that lay hidden
beneath the crust.
Robert was miles from nowhere, surrounded by the bleached skulls of other
animals that had become trapped in the mire. But he had plenty of water,
so he waited for help to find him on the remote dirt track. After six
days, he abandoned the microbus and began walking to a less deserted
location where someone was more likely to pass.
Luck was with him! As he was shaking the last drop of water from his
bottle, help arrived in the form of 14-year-old British lads from the
League of Venturers, who were training in search-and-rescue techniques.
"He was crying and completely hysterical. I don't think he expected to
last the day," said the unit leader. They gave him a lift to the nearest
ranger station, 80 miles away, where he kissed the ground in gratitude.
Robert had cheated death once, but that didn't stop him from tempting fate
In nearby Bishop, he found someone to tow the microbus out of the mudflats.
Alas, it had two flat tires and other mechanical problems, so he returned
to Bishop for automotive supplies. He snagged another ride into Death
Valley, this time with a couple who took an unfamiliar route from the
north, and dropped him off at a washout in the road about 15 miles from the
Palm Springs campground.
His plan was to locate the campground and enlist help fixing his vehicle.
He stashed his supplies and began walking. His body was found three days
later, without a map, a GPS, or even water. Authorities estimated that he
had walked along the road for 10 miles before heading into the open desert,
"The desert does strange things to people."
"Gotta love the tree-huggers, and I can say that cause I am one."
DarwinAwards.com © 1994 - 2012
Submitted by: Karl Cleife
Reference: Southampton Echo, UK; Daily Record, Glasgow, UK;
www.death-valley.us/article1353.html; Daily Mirror, KCBS