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3 hikers rescued, 2 others found dead

July 20, 2009 5:31:03 AM PDT
A blistering heat wave over the weekend may be responsible for the death of two hikers in the Palm Springs area. Three more hikers, dehydrated and out of breath, had to be rescued Monday. Crews had to give one of the hikers oxygen and intravenous fluids after she was rescued. She was then flown by helicopter out of the remote canyon area near Mecca suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Her two fellow hikers were taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. They're all believed to be from out of town.

"If you're not acclimated to this type of weather, you've never hiked in the desert where temperatures soar to 115 or more, then perhaps you need to think about it twice before you sign up for a tour like this," said Capt. Fernando Herrera from Cal Fire.

The hikers reportedly took off on Sunday when temperatures reached nearly 115 degrees. They spent the night in the desert, with overnight lows barely dropping under 100.

The fire department says their guide split up from them on the way back Monday morning after some were too exhausted to continue. Fire officials say the hikers are very lucky they made it out OK and that it could have been much worse.

"Obviously they would have been stranded with the weather like this, not having plenty of water to drink," said Capt. Herrera. "You know, they could have been severely injured or they could have probably died out here."

A search for a missing hiker Sunday led to the discovery of two bodies San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs. Police say the two men may have died because of the sweltering heat.

One of those bodies is that of a missing hiker found during an aerial search of the area.

The hiker was with a group visiting the desert on Saturday, where it reached 116 degrees. He became separated from the group and never returned to his car.

Circumstances surrounding the second man's death are still under investigation.

Also on Sunday, the body of a 35-year-old man was found behind a liquor store on Baseline Street in San Bernardino. Investigators say this death might also be heat related, but the coroner's office will make the final determination.

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