The victims were 36-year-old David Decareaux and his sons who were 8 and 10 years old respectively. The guys were out for what was intended to be only a day hike, while Decareaux's wife and three other children were staying at a nearby lodge.
With their family dog along for the hike, Decareaux and his boys headed off along a stretch of hiking trail that crossed a sparsely populated region of southeast Missouri. According to reports, Decareaux knew the trail, but apparently took a wrong turn and ended up getting lost while trying to find their way back to the lodge.
A rain storm overtook them, and temperatures dropped from the 60s to the 20s as the day wore on. None of them were dressed for that kind of weather, and when heavy rain started to fall, there were no caves, overhangs or other natural places to seek shelter.
At 7 p.m. that evening, lodge officials called the sheriff's department, because Decareaux and his sons had failed to return as planned. A search was started, with more than 50 volunteers on foot, horseback and in vehicles. Just after midnight, flash flooding in the creeks forced searchers to abandon the mission until daylight.
The next morning, the bodies of Decareaux and his sons were found. The loyal family dog was still beside them … the sole survivor of the ordeal.
It's always a tragedy when something like this happens. And what makes it worse is that it could so easily have been avoided by following one simple principle of outdoor survival. Always be prepared to stay out there longer than you planned.
- Survival situations never announce themselves in advance.
- They sneak up on you unexpected.
- The only way to make sure you're not caught unawares is to be prepared to stay outdoors as long as long as it takes for the situation to sort itself out.
- If it's bad weather, you must be able to survive it until the storm subsides.
- If it's an injury, you must be able to survive until you are well enough to hike out.