The Arizona Daily Star ran front-page articles on June 21 and 22 about hikers who died as a result of our extreme summer heat. Since then, the newspaper has published at least two more articles about heat-related deaths, along with warnings to hikers.
Local media lamented what grew to be six heat-related deaths of recreational hikers in June. But the remains of 25 people were recovered from our desert that month without a word.
At the time of the June articles, I wrote a letter to the editor acknowledging the tragedy of these deaths and thanking the Star for its warnings. However, the major content of my letter was about the daily heat-related deaths occurring in our desert that are given no media attention. In the June articles and subsequent ones, the Star lamented what grew to be six heat-related deaths of hikers in June. But the remains of 25 people were recovered from our desert that month, and another 24 in July, without a word.
This, of course, is nothing new: hundreds of migrant deaths occur every year without media attention, although the information about human remains found is readily available from the Pima County Forensic Science Center. Ed McCullough of the Tucson Samaritans compiles this data and distributes it to the many involved in humanitarian work in southern Arizona. We also know that this information understates the numbers of deaths because the remains of many who die are never found. So, in my letter to the editor, I asked why there is almost no media interest in these deaths compared to the deaths of a few recreational hikers. My letter was not published.
Text: Lois Martin. Featured image: Ed McCullough. Locations where the bodies of 24 border crossers were found in July. “RHR” stands for recovered human remains.