Orange County man dies in Death Valley after running out of gas

A Huntington Beach man was found dead Tuesday in Death Valley National Park after apparently running out of gas and attempting to walk to get help during a dangerous heat wave, National Park Service officials said.

David Kelleher, 67, was found about 30 feet from a freeway in the park and less than three miles from his parked vehicle, according to a parking service statement. Officers found a crumpled note in his vehicle that read, “Out of Gas.”

A parking attendant first met Kelleher on Dantes View Road on May 30 — about two weeks before he was found dead — when Kelleher mentioned he was low on gas, the statement said. Kelleher was subsequently cited for off-road driving.

Nine days after that interaction, a parking attendant noticed Kelleher’s vehicle of his own accord in the parking lot of one of the park’s most popular overlooks, Zabriskie Point, the park service reported.

On June 11 — two days later, during a heatwave that sent temperatures rising to 123 degrees — the same ranger spotted Kelleher’s vehicle alone again in the parking lot, the statement said. Rangers determined that the vehicle was registered to Kelleher, but that he had not been reported missing.

Rangers launched an investigation and searched for Kelleher on trails around Zabriskie Point, although the search was limited due to the hot weather, the park service said.

Kelleher was not found near or along those searched trails, but was found three days later by park visitors about 30 feet off Highway 190, “obscured by terrain and a mesquite tree,” the statement said.

He was about 2½ miles north of his vehicle toward Furnace Creek, the park’s main village with resources that include a gas station, the statement said.

This is the second death in Death Valley this summer: 69-year-old John McCarry of Long Beach was found dead on June 1st.

The search for another man, Peter Harootunian, continues after park officials found his abandoned vehicle at a Death Valley campground in late May.

Parking attendants recommend people wait by their vehicles for help in extreme heat rather than trying to get help. Orange County man dies in Death Valley after running out of gas

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