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24-year-old biker dies from extreme heat after giving his water to stranded hikers

“This was a good Samaritan just trying to help out,” San Diego County fire captain Brent Pascua said.
/ Source: TODAY

A 24-year-old biker died while trying to help stranded hikers amid this summer's record-breaking heat.

Kai Torres Bronson was biking with three friends in the Carrizo Gorge of San Diego's Jacumba Mountains on July 15 when his group encountered four hikers who had run out of food and water and were suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration, Fox 5 San Diego reported. Torres Bronson and one friend stayed with the hikers while the other two bikers went to get help.

Torres Bronson had plenty of experience mountain biking and knew to bring the necessities with him on rides, according to his family. He was carrying water in his backpack, and his family believes he gave it to the stranded hikers.

Torres Bronson
Kai Torres Bronson, 24, died on July 15 after giving his water to hikers he found in distress, his family said.TODAY

Three of the hikers were eventually airlifted from the trail by, NBC San Diego reported. Around the same time, first responders found Torres Bronson and his friend struggling with heat exhaustion. He'd complained of being tired and needing water, and collapsed more than once on the way to meet up with the rest of his group.

He became unresponsive and was transported by pickup truck to an ambulance and then an air ambulance. Paramedics tried to save him, but he was pronounced dead before getting to the hospital.

“This was a good Samaritan just trying to help out,” San Diego County fire captain Brent Pascua said. “Unfortunately, bad things happen to people out there when it’s this hot.”

The highest temperature in Jacumba that day was 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since his death, Torres Bronson's loved ones have shared how kindness was a big part of his personality, recalling his "huge heart."

“Kai was the son, brother, cousin, friend that provided a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold and a smile that would brighten your day,” Jenn Rico, a longtime friend of Torres Bronson’s family, read from a statement.

“This past week has been extremely difficult. However, it brings the family some comfort knowing that our Kai Kai died the way that he lived, going out of his way to help others."

“The Alvarez family would like Kai to be remembered for his kind heart and his mission to spread positivity and compassion,” Rico continued. “Kai believed that you should live to treat others the way you want to be treated and just be a good person.”

Extreme heat can be fatal, no matter your age

Torres Bronson's death comes amid a sweltering July with extreme heat that has left at least seven dead in national parks since June. These deaths include people in their 50s, 60s and 70s, as well as a 14-year-old boy and his 31-year-old stepfather, who died getting help.

TODAY reported on Monday that 30 million people in the U.S. were living under heat advisories, which include parts of California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, North and South Dakota, Texas, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, NBC News reported. Meanwhile, people in Arizona have had to be hospitalized with third-degree burns due to contact with the pavement.

Torres Bronson's family told NBC San Diego that they hope others will learn from the tragedy and take precautionary measures in the extreme heat.

“When it’s this hot, maybe it’s a good idea to plan the hike another day, or at least really early in the morning so it’s not in the heat of the day. And when you do, take lots of water — take more water than you think you’re going to need,” Pascua said.

“Know your limitations and try and get help as soon as possible, that way we can get out there and help you,” he added.

If you're considering going outdoors for an extended period in the extreme heat, the National Park Service recommends:

  • Staying hydrated. You'll likely need to consumer more than the standard guideline of eight, 8-ounce cups of water a day.
  • Wearing sun protection.
  • Wearing lightweight clothing.
  • Eating salty snacks.
  • Resting in the shade.
  • Splashing water on yourself.
  • Going back inside if you get too hot.
  • Scheduling activities for before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

You should also pay attention to any signs of heat-related illness for yourself or any companions. These include: muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or feeling lightheaded, headache, feeling weak, increased thirst, red or dry skin, and lack of sweating.

If you suspect you or someone you're with is suffering from heat-related illness, call emergency assistance immediately.