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'Out of gas': California man found dead 30 feet from highway in Death Valley

death valley
AP Photo/John Locher
People walk on salt flats in Badwater Basin, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Death Valley National Park, Calif.

A California man was found dead in Death Valley National Park this week, according to park officials.

Visitors to the park found the body of David Kelleher, 67, of Huntington Beach, on June 14. It appeared he was walking from Zabriskie Point to Furnace Creek after running out of gas.

At the time, temperatures were reaching up to 123°F.  

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Kelleher had not been reported missing, but was cited by a park ranger for off-road driving on May 30.

Officials found a crumpled note in his car that said, "Out of gas." He mentioned being low on gas when he was cited near Dantes View Road. His car was parked at one of the park's popular viewpoints.

In extreme heat, park rangers recommend people to wait at their vehicles if they break down or run out of gas, rather than walking for help. 

His body was found 2.5 miles from his vehicle, but only 30 feet from California Highway 190, obscured by terrain and a tree.

"The National Park Service encourages park visitors to stay safe in the summer by not hiking at low elevations after 10 am, staying within a short walk of air conditioning, drinking plenty of water, and eating salty snacks," park officials said in a news release.

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This was the park’s second recent fatality. John McCarry, 69, of Long Beach, was found dead in Panamint Valley on June 1.  

Another man, Peter Harootunian, has been missing since May 23, after his vehicle was found abandoned in Emigrant Campground.

Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the online editor for Nevada Public Radio. She curates content on, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.