Four-Hour Death Hike: Jeremy Barlow, 31, of Missouri, Apparently Succumbs to Heat on South Mountain

Categories: Outdoors
south mountain 1.jpg
Image: www.gemland.com
From some vantage points in the 16,000-acre South Mountain park, the city looks awfully far away. On Sunday, a 31-year-old man from Missouri got lost, ran out of water and died just four hours into his hike.

We're not the only ones still trying to comprehend how a 31-year-old man from Missouri died after hiking for a mere four hours on Sunday morning with a friend at South Mountain Park.

"It's very unusual," says Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Jorge Enriquez. "Maybe they underestimated the hike, coming from another state."

Fire officials say the deceased man -- identified today by police as Jeremy Barlow -- and his friend flew out to the Valley for the weekend to watch Saturday Friday night's match-up between the Sun Devils and Missouri Tigers, then decided to go on a hike in the morning.

They started hiking at about 9 a.m. The pair brought a map, but very little water for a long hike, Enriquez says: One man had two bottles of water, the other man just one bottle.

"They kind of got off the trail ... and got a little bit lost," Enriquez says. "At 11 o'clock, they ran out of water."

The men reportedly couldn't find their way back to the trail, or to civilization. We find that detail troubling and tragic, because South Mountain -- despite being 16,000 acres -- is mostly surrounded by homes. Climbing up the mountain's flanks provides a bird's-eye view.

To these out-of-towners, though, the cactus-filled hills, crags and arroyos apparently seemed without end. As the pair stumbled about, Barlow began to feel sick. His friend called 911 at about 12:40 p.m., reporting that Barlow was "on his knees, crawling" and vomiting.

Phoenix Fire sent out a team of rescuers loaded with gear and a "big wheel," which is like an off-road-capable gurney. But the friend was unable to tell firefighters exactly where to go, leading to more lost time.

"They were kind of going in circles for a little while trying to figure out where he was at," Enriquez says. "By the time the fire department got to him, he was already deceased on the scene."

From our point of view, it wasn't even that hot on Sunday morning. Humid, yes, but the heat was nothing compared to the last few, brutal weeks.

"Maybe he wasn't feeling well from the night before," Enriquez speculates.

We also wonder if the pair wasn't fatigued before the hike -- the football game went into overtime and perhaps they stayed up late. (UPDATE: A commenter points out that this shouldn't have been a factor, since the game was two days before the hike, not the night before.)

Enriquez says that, while "uncommon," it's possible for a dehydrated, but otherwise healthy, person to fall victim to heat stroke in such a short amount of time.

Barlow's friend, by contrast, was "a little dehydrated" but otherwise fine after the hike.

South Mountain's usually well-populated with hikers and mountain bikers -- who, if they're like us, wish they could have bumped into this pair over the weekend and shared some water.


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23 comments
hawk647
hawk647

I was born and raised in KC.  No big city in MO has anything like the extreme environment that exists in South Mountain Park.  Each person should have had a minimum of at least 2 liters of water, 3 liters would have been better.  A map would have helped too.  People still get lost and die in the Superstition Wilderness, which is only a half hour from downtown Phoenix.Don't respect our desert?  It can kill you.I never ever go hiking without my Camelbak.  Keep a map tucked in it too.  You never know.

Kcrockchick
Kcrockchick

I guess with all the assumptions made in the above article, that I can now make the assumption the blogger who wrote it was raised by wolves.  Because that's really the only way I can see why someone would write a piece like this.  Jeremy- and his family/friends - deserve your respect because of the tragic cirucmstance surrounding his death...not your condesension. 

guest
guest

I believe wolves have more compassion....

TSH
TSH

I think everyone here needs to consider where the article is coming from.  The author is not a professional journalist, trail guide or emergency medical responder.  Yes, it is poorly written, speculative and mostly opinion, but that's what you expect from a blog.  We are comparing The Pitch to The Kansas City Star.  We're expecting top-tier journalism from a tabloid that advertises escorts at the bottom of their front page?  Really? 

Dcg
Dcg

I think we are just expecting more respect for a human life that was lost tragically soon.

TSH
TSH

I totally agree, but it's expecting to much from a bottom shelf rag like this....

Kc25chief
Kc25chief

Jeremy was a great kid, andd knew his way around athletics and endurance. He is a 4th degree black belt in Korean Hapkido ,, more than 12 years. He knew how to handle himself with physical adversity. I went through weekend fasting and 8 hr meditations testing with and climbing workshops.

Something happened medically with this guy,,, maybe they got food poisioning or he took some meds on an empty stomach prior.

RIP ,, you were loved

Alamoe
Alamoe

Man this is crazy his father is my boss they told us this in a meeting this morning... Didn't know there was so much legal action to take when someone dies out of state... I keep Mr. Barlow and his family in my prayers

B I Davidson
B I Davidson

As a person who knew Jeremy personally I found this article incredibly insensitive and extremely opinionated. Shame on your for trivializing someone's death because YOU can't understand the circumstances. Stick to reporting the facts and leave the opinions to the experts. You may consider sending the family an apology for such insensitive remarks. One should not forget that a man lost his life and his best friend will forever have to live with the knowledge that he couldn't save him.

Mandy
Mandy

"Four-Hour Death Hike"?!?!?!?!?!?! That's seriously how you titled your article?!?!?! How insensitive and callous can one person possibly be? Your article spends far more space belittling, condescending, and defaming Jeremy than it does reporting the facts of his death.  Has it occurred to you that simply because you are in Arizona and his family is in the Midwest does not mean that his widow and other loved ones will be spared from your spiteful vitriol? You should be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Stern, as should the Phoenix New Times for hosting your ridiculous attempt at journalism.  

Noël
Noël

Ray:  You are an insensitive prick!  How dare you speak that way about someone you don't even know, especially regarding such a tragic event.  Even your title rankles!  Please consider the toll you might take on family members and friends of your "journalistic subjects" the next time you "attempt" to cover a similar topic.

houndmama
houndmama

There is a lot of speculation here, and very little journalism.  I would speculate it is the theory of relativity.  Jeremy was from relatively far away, and the reporter had relatively little knowledge of him or of the circumstances of his death.  But, you know, Jeremy was a relatively fit guy, and a relatively young guy, more likely to overestimate his capacity for a desert conditions than someone from the area.  Jeremy was super.  What happened is very sad.  Jeremy and his friend and his family don't need such insensitive speculation. 

Also, thank you to the heroes who found him and his friend, and who tried to save him.  It must be very frustrating to be close and not be able to get there in time.

Anon
Anon

South Mountain really does a poor job with their trail markers, in my opinion. I know where I'm going, but only after hiking it for the last several years. The park should really look into updating their signage as part of their response to this horrible event.

Rachel
Rachel

Wow. Could you be more condescending and disrespectful? Someones husband, friend, child just passed away and to be sarcastic and almost comedic is ridiculous.

Rena
Rena

What an insensitive report. This article goes beyond mere reporting of an incident to include commentary that suggests this young man did something wrong or perhaps deserved what happened to him. To claim that this man died after a "mere four hours" because he was from another state and couldn't deal with the fact that in your opinion it "wasn't even that hot" is just insulting. Perhaps someone should revist the idea that journalism is about reporting facts, and if this reporter is instead interested in the weather and how people from other states deal with it they should become a meterologist.

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