LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A 67-year-old California man and U.S. Marine Corps veteran was found dead in Death Valley National Park on Tuesday after he apparently ran out of gas, according to park officials.
A park ranger noticed there was only one vehicle in the parking lot on the morning of June 8, and saw the same vehicle alone in the lot again on the evening of June 11.
Rangers found the vehicle was registered to David Kelleher of Huntington Beach, but he had not been reported missing. Instead, rangers learned Kelleher had been cited on May 30 for off-road driving.
When he was cited, Kelleher reportedly told officials he was low on fuel. A crumpled note that read “Out of gas” was also found inside his vehicle.
A search began for Kelleher, but a heat wave causing record temperatures of up to 123 degrees limited efforts, rangers explained. The search was focused on Golden Canyon and Badlands Trails, which is ultimately not where Kelleher was found.
Visitors came across his body on Tuesday, about two and a half miles from his car and only about 30 feet from California Highway 190. Officials believe Kelleher was walking toward a nearby gas station.
The Los Angeles Times reports Kelleher’s son posted about his father Wednesday saying he was a 22-year veteran and that he retired as a captain in 1994.
Park officials are now encouraging visitors to wait with their broken-down vehicle rather than walking for help.
Kelleher’s death marks the park’s second death this month. Another California resident, 69-year-old John McCarry, was found dead in Panamint Valley on June 1. On May 23, the search began for Peter Harootunian, whose car was found abandoned in a campground. He has not yet been found, according to rangers.