Alexander Lofgren Emily Henkel Death Valley camping trip tragedy: Arizona congressional aide dies while wife is rescued after becoming stranded during camping trip in the Mojave Desert at Death Valley National Park.
Alexander Lofgren, a 32-year-old an aide to Arizona Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, and his wife, Emily Henkel, 27, became stranded when their Subaru got two flat tires in the park in the Mojave Desert, according to the Inyo Creek Sheriff’s Office.
When the couple did not return on the due date of their camping trip, on Sunday, the Sheriff’s Office was notified and started searching on Tuesday, officials said. The two had jugs of water, at least a day’s worth of food and camping gear.
Authorities searched along Lofgren’s back-country itinerary route in addition to tourist attractions and hotels.
Park staffers found the couple’s missing Subaru on Wednesday along with a note that read, ‘Two flat tires, headed to Mormon Point, have three days’ worth of water.’
2 miles short off their destination
Instead of hiking up to 22.5 miles to a paved road, the couple hiked west into wilderness toward Mormon Point, which is near paved road.
The note was ‘a crucial tip in directing search efforts’ and led them to eventually spot the pair from the air on a steep ledge near Willow Creek, authorities said. The couple were found stranded 2 miles away from their destination.
A team attempted to reach the couple, but were initially unable to hoist them up and couldn’t reach the remote area until around 11:30 a.m. Friday, authorities said.
By that time, Lofgren had already passed away. His wife was flown to Lemoore Naval Air Station for medical treatment.
Alexander Lofgren, an aide to U.S. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., was found dead Friday in Death Valley National Park, several days after he and his girlfriend were reported missing . https://t.co/fj4FckPk3T
— J.K. Sloan (@jameskeithsloan) April 10, 2021
‘Alex lived a life of service and always put the needs of others first’
The cause of Lofgren’s death is under investigation. The couple were described as ‘experienced campers.’
‘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.
Lofgren served four years in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, according to Grijalva. He also got his bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University. During his fellowship, Lofgren worked as a caseworker with southern Arizona veterans on issues regarding Veterans Affairs health care, benefits and more, according to a 2019 statement.
‘Alex lived a life of service and always put the needs of others first,’ Grijalva said on Friday. ‘The passion he dedicated to his 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.’
‘Words cannot begin to describe how heartbroken I am over the death of Alex Lofgren,’ Grijalvas wrote on Twitter.
‘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.’