When 18-year-old Ariel Newman set off for Israel in September 2014 for a nine-month gap year, he gave his dad a huge bear hug. Tragically, the farewell at JFK was the last time that Mark Newman and his wife, Ellen, would see their only child — eight days later, he collapsed from exertional heat stroke (EHS) while hiking in the desert.
The SUNY Binghamton-bound Ariel literally roasted to death 45 minutes from the end of a grueling 9.5-mile trek in temperatures in the mid- to upper 90s.
After Ariel Newman died due to exertional heat stroke, his parents, Ellen and Mark, created a guide to keep it from happening to others.
“His death was completely preventable if the right measures had been taken,” says interior designer Ellen, her voice cracking from the heartbreak. “Just some basic knowledge about hiking in heat could have saved him.”
Now, to show that Ariel’s passing was not in vain, the Great Neck, LI, parents joined forces with expert medics to produce a guide, Ariel’s Checklist, raising awareness of EHS and ways to avoid it.
While the condition is not always life-threatening, it can cause severe organ damage and lead to death if not recognized and treated properly. It is a particular danger to sports enthusiasts.
The Newmans have examined what went wrong on what Mark calls Ariel’s “death march.” Not only was Ariel a beginner, but, at 230 pounds, he was out of shape for the two-day challenge. His parents insist the organizers of the program should never have allowed him on such a tough hike in the first place.
Despite their grief, Ellen and Mark teamed with EHS experts including Dr. Robert Huggins of the Korey Stringer Institute, a research center at the University of Connecticut that aims to prevent deaths in sports. The resulting 10-point guide is aimed at hikers throughout the US — especially those in ultrahot environments — as well as abroad, including Israel.
“Bringing enough water and ensuring everyone wears a hat is not nearly enough,” says Mark, who works for the IRS in Manhattan. “Acclimatizing, getting a good night’s sleep ahead of the hike and wearing loose, moisture-wicking clothes are among other key factors.”
The Newmans hope the guide — which also recommends work-to-rest cycles and recognizing limits — will make a difference.
Says Ellen: “Ariel wasn’t an effusive character, but I think he’d be like, ‘Cool, Mom!’ and be quietly very proud of us.”
Source: The New York Post