New Mexico

Autopsy: Men found dead near Carlsbad Caverns died from heat exposure while hiking

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Autopsy findings reveal the Corpus Christi men found dead near Carlsbad had run out of water and died from heat exposure while hiking in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in June.
The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator listed the deaths of 57-year-old Robert Stuart Pluta and his 21-year-old son Robert Jr. as accidental, bringing an end to an investigation by authorities.
The bodies of the men were found on a trail about a half mile apart on a day when temperatures soared above 100 degrees. Both men were avid and experienced hikers, investigators said.
Medical investigator Veena Singh says in the report that no naturally-occurring water sources in the area could have provided relief.

The Plutas checked into a hotel on Wednesday, June 14th. At the time, authorities said the father and son never checked out of their hotel and their red Ford F-150 was found at a trailhead on Monday, June 19th.

When the men were reported missing, the Border Patrol and New Mexico National Guard sent helicopters to assist with the search. Tracking dogs were also deployed in the area, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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