Missouri man dies of dehydration, exposure on unmarked Badlands trail during social media challenge

With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees that day, officials say the hikers ran out of water.

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INTERIOR, S.D. — One hiker died and another was hospitalized after suffering from dehydration and exposure while hiking an unmarked trail in Badlands National Park as part of a social media challenge.

According to the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, 22-year-old Maxwell Right, of St. Louis, and a 21-year-old male, also from Missouri, were hiking through the Badlands on Wednesday when they ran out of water.

Though it's unclear where exactly in the park the pair were hiking, temperatures in Interior reached 101 degrees on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Rapid City.

During the hike, Right collapsed and died. Officials say the presumed cause of death is dehydration and exposure to the elements.

When park rangers were able to locate the two, the surviving man was airlifted to a Rapid City hospital for observation and treatment of dehydration and exposure. His status is unknown.


The trail the men were on was unmarked, and the Pennington County Sheriff's Office said the pair hiked the unmarked path as part of a social media challenge.

Hikers are reminded to remain on marked trails and carry sufficient supplies when participating in outdoor activities.

Emergency personnel responding to the call include those from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Badlands National Park Law Enforcement, Life Flight, Wall Ambulance, Rapid City Ambulance and Interior Volunteer Fire Department.

The investigation remains ongoing.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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