Man Making Trek With Dad's Ashes Meets Tragedy

Texas' James Hendricks apparently died of heatstroke in Arches National Park
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2023 11:15 AM CDT
Man Making Trek With Dad's Ashes Meets Tragedy
James "Jimmy" Bernard Hendricks is seen in March 2022 in Austin, Texas.   (Ruth Hendricks Brough via AP)

It was meant to be an emotional but meaningful journey from Texas to the Sierra Nevada, where Austin local James Bernard Hendricks intended to spread his late father's ashes. Instead, his family is now dealing with a new tragedy, after Hendricks is believed to have succumbed to heatstroke during a pit stop in Utah, on a hike in Arches National Park. CBS News reports that the body of the 66-year-old Hendricks, whom loved ones called Jimmy, was found on Aug. 1, not long after park rangers came upon his vehicle in a trailhead parking lot.

Hendricks' body was discovered off-trail "in a sitting position, as though looking forward, in one of the most beautiful places in the world," sister Ruth Hendricks Brough wrote on Facebook. She added in a second post that her brother's water bottle was found empty, and that he'd been taking a blood pressure medication that could lead to dehydration. Per the AP, which notes that Hendricks was found about 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead, temperatures in the park on July 29, the day he went missing, exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Per KAKE, Hendricks had been documenting his trek to his dad's final resting place online, a peak near Reno, Nevada, calling his journey "Travels With Neil: A Final Journey With My Father." His last post on Facebook went up on July 28, as he was heading toward the park near Moab, Utah. "I'm going to get there at the crack of dawn, before the traffic restrictions take effect," he wrote. "The light will be better for photographs early in the morning, anyway." His sister notes in her own post that Hendricks was an "experienced explorer," and that she believes he became "disoriented from the heat, dehydration and high altitude which were rapidly overtaking him."

story continues below

In an eerie coincidence, the AP notes that Hendricks' brother, Ron Hendricks, vanished more than 20 years ago near Lake Tahoe, and that the family had been notified just this year that his remains had been found and identified. The National Park Service and Grand County Sheriff's Office continue to investigate James Hendricks' death. So far, all authorities will say is that altitude and extreme heat seem to be "relevant factors," a sheriff's office rep tells the AP. (More heatstroke stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.