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Rhode Island woman found dead after hiking in Scottsdale

Brown's Ranch trailhead scottsdale
Posted at 4:23 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 01:13:42-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Scottsdale police are investigating after a woman was found dead on a hiking trail Sunday night.

Officials say 57-year-old Donna Miller from Rhode Island and her husband went hiking at around 12:30 p.m. and she did not return to their meeting spot after separating.

Her husband called 9-1-1 at around 3:15 p.m. when he could not locate her.

Scottsdale and Phoenix Fire Departments, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Search Dogs, Air Unit, and Mountain Rescue Team all responded to help locate Miller.

Miller's body was located by Maricopa County Mountain Rescue Team members just after 9 p.m. on the Brown’s Ranch trailhead north of the trailhead.

"We’ve had, you know, mid-107, 108 the past couple days so, it’s just crazy that people don’t prepare a little bit more, you know," says Lance Etter, who frequents Brown's Ranch.

“The out-of-town visitors that aren’t familiar with our dry heat. It can come as a shock to people as they’re out here, as they start engaging on the trail. It hits them sooner than they expect it to," said Deputy Chief Adam Hoster.

Scottsdale fire says they have responded to 15 mountain rescue calls since July 15, versus six mountain rescue calls during that same time frame last year. The spots for those rescues were Brown's Ranch, Windgate, Tom's Thumb, and Pinnacle Peak.

"I talked with my fire chief and it’s something that we may be looking into in the future, in these extreme temperature days or summer, in the middle of summer and towards the end of summer… possibly limiting access to some of these trailheads," says Deputy Chief Hoster.

It would be similar to the pilot program that was put in place in July at Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak, out of concern for the safety of hikers and firefighters. That’s why some people stick to coming out to the trail after sundown.

"Pulls the moisture right out of your body so you do have to hydrate up in advance and I usually carry my pack here and I have several bottles of water on me as well. It’s definitely no joke, you've got to prepare out here," says Etter.

Scottsdale police and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office are working to determine a cause of death, although they say it appears to be heat-related.