This story is tragic on so many levels and contains numerous lessons for people entering the outdoors.
An Air Force veteran known as an experienced hiker died along with two of his young sons after apparently getting lost on a desolate Missouri trail in heavy rain and plunging temperatures, according to a Fox News report.David Decareaux, 36, of Millstadt, Ill., and his 8- and 10-year-old sons were found Sunday, a day after they ventured out with their 4-month-old yellow Labrador retriever on the Ozark Trail, about 110 miles southwest of St. Louis.
Decareaux died at the scene, and the boys were declared dead at a hospital after efforts to revive them failed. It is believed the three died of exposure to the elements, though autopsies were planned.The dog was found near the victims and survived.
Apparently, Decareaux knew the popular trail but apparently took a wrong turn and was ill-equipped for temperatures that sank from 60 degrees to the 20s as the day progressed. Decareaux had been wearing only a light jacket, while one of his sons was clad in a fleece pullover, and the other a sweater.A passer-by spotted the hikers more than three hours into their journey and asked if they needed a ride back to the Brushy Creek Lodge near Black, where Decareaux's wife and their three other children - ages 12, 4 and 2 - were staying. But Decareaux declined, telling the man they could make it back.
"They just missed their turn back to the lodge," a sheriff said. "By that time, their light played out. You don't have any ambient light down here because there are no cities or towns. When it's dark you can't see the back of your hand."Officials at the lodge called the sheriff's department about 7 p.m. Saturday, concerned that the hikers had not returned. A search involving more than 50 volunteers on foot, horseback and in vehicles lasted until about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, when flash-flooding in creeks forced searchers to back off until daylight.
The bodies of Decareaux and the boys were found soaking wet Sunday morning, their dog beside them.