Friday, Aug. 7, 2009 | 11:30 a.m.
An 11-year-old Las Vegas boy died after his mother's car got stuck in sand in Death Valley for five days during a camping trip, officials said Friday.
Carlos Sanchez and his 28-year-old mother set out for an overnight trip to the area Aug. 1, but were stranded when their car got stuck about 20 miles east of Trona. The mother's name has not been released.
Their car was found Thursday after Las Vegas police reported the pair missing. The mother told her rescuers her son had died the day before. The family's dachshund also survived and is being cared for by sheriff's deputies, said San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Tim Lotspeich, who assisted in the rescue.
The mother told authorities she got a flat tire on the way to Death Valley and continued after replacing it. Then, later in the day, their Jeep got stuck in the sand along the northern border of the China Lake Naval Weapons Center.
The mother hiked to the top of a tall peak to try to get a cell phone signal but could not, officials said. The pair had no maps and quickly consumed the 24 16-oz. bottles of water, Pop Tarts and cheese sandwiches they had packed.
The vehicle was found several miles off a dirt road in the middle of the desert and apparently got stuck when it drove over an underground coyote den and the soil collapsed, Lotspeich said.
The severely dehydrated mother was airlifted to Sunrise Medical Center in Las Vegas. Her condition was not immediately known.
The average summer temperature in Death Valley National Park, a vast and desolate area along the California-Nevada border that is considered one of the hottest places on Earth, is well over 100 degrees.
An autopsy on the boy is scheduled for next week.