Header Ads

Congressional staffer, 32, is found dead and his wife is rescued in Death Valley National Park after they went missing during a camping trip

 An Arizona veteran who worked as a congressional staffer died while camping in Death Valley National Park in California with his wife who was able to be rescued on Friday.

Alexander Lofgren, 32, and Emily Henkel, 27, were found on a steep ledge near Willow Creek in the desert park, but Lofgren was dead, according to a statement from the Inyo Creek Sheriff's Office.

Lofgren worked as a caseworker in the district office of Congressman Raul Grijalv, KGUN reported. He previously served in the military and was deployed to Afghanistan.

Henkel was flown to Lemoore Naval Air Station for treatment, and there was no immediate word on her condition. 

It was unclear how Lofgren died. However, temperatures in Death Valley reached 100 degrees on a couple days this week, according to Accuweather

The Tucson residents, described as experienced campers, failed to return Sunday from a camping trip and were reported missing Tuesday.

Authorities searched hotels and major tourist attractions along a highway and checked Lofgren's back-country itinerary.

On Wednesday, park staff found the couple's missing Subaru. According to the Sheriff's Office, a note in the car stated: 'Two flat tires, headed to Mormon Point, have three days' worth of water.'

Alexander Lofgren, 32, top, and Emily Henkel, 27, are pictured in an image released by Inyo Creek Sheriff's Office

The Sheriff's Office posted a picture of the their white 2018 Subaru Forester with Yakima roof rack and several dogs near what is believed to be Tucson at some point before their Death Valley trip

The Sheriff's Office posted a picture of the their white 2018 Subaru Forester with Yakima roof rack and several dogs near what is believed to be Tucson at some point before their Death Valley trip

That proved to be 'a crucial tip in directing search efforts,' the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office posted a picture of the their white 2018 Subaru Forester with Yakima roof rack and several dogs parked near what is believed to be Tucson at some point before their Death Valley trip.

Saguaro cactuses, seen in the picture, do not grow in Death Valley but are common in the Tucson area. 

On Thursday, the couple was spotted from the air, but crews couldn't hoist them up and weren't able to reach them in the remote area until shortly after 11.30am on Friday, authorities said.


A Facebook page for Henkel, a photographer, is filled with incredible photos from her voyages in nature

A Facebook page for Henkel, a photographer, is filled with incredible photos from her voyages in nature

She was flown to Lemoore Naval Air Station for treatment, and there was no immediate word on her condition

She was flown to Lemoore Naval Air Station for treatment, and there was no immediate word on her condition

Family members posted on Facebook that she was 'safe' after she was found on Friday

Family members posted on Facebook that she was 'safe' after she was found on Friday

Democrat Congressman Raul M. Grijalva posted about Lofgren's death on Twitter

Democrat Congressman Raul M. Grijalva posted about Lofgren's death on Twitter

'This has been a tremendously difficult operation in a very unforgiving geographic area of Inyo County, I sincerely hope for healing and recovery for all involved,' Sheriff Jeff Hollowell said in the statement. 

Custody of Lofgren's body was transferred to the Inyo County Coroner. An investigation will follow to determine the cause and manner of death.

Congressman Grijalva, a Democrat, released a statement about Lofgren's death on Twitter.

'To know Alex was to know someone who loved life, loved his family, and loved helping others. Words cannot begin to describe the void this immeasurable loss leaves in the hearts of his colleagues and his family,' Grijalva wrote.

'Alex lived a life of service and always put the needs of others first. After serving our country in Afghanistan, he came home to Arizona to serve veterans right here in Southern Arizona as a caseworker in my office.'

He continued: 'The passion he dedicated to work each day touched countless lives. No matter the situation, Alex met those he helped with a smiling face, a caring heart, and unrivaled empathy.'

'Alex will forever be a part of our family, and my heart is with his family, his loving partner Emily, and his colleagues who mourn him today,' he added.

A Facebook page for Henkel, a photographer, is filled with incredible photos from her voyages in nature. Family members posted that she was 'safe' after she was found on Friday.

Death Valley, in the Mojave Desert in eastern California, is one of the hottest and driest places in the world. It had highs in the 90s this week.

The rugged park has claimed several lives over the years. In January, an experienced climber who was descending a canyon plunged to his death when he was caught in a rockslide.  

No comments