Bay Area couple found dead in Utah wilderness

A hike in extremely hot weather through a rugged area of the Utah wilderness appears to have claimed the lives of  an elderly couple from Campbell.

Officials in Kane County, Utah say the bodies of 70-year-old Ulrich Wahli and his wife, 69-year-old Patricia Wahli, have been recovered after hikers came upon the body of Patricia Wahli on a trail in the Wave, a sandstone rock formation in the Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Alan Alldredge says hikers found the body of Patricia Wahli Thursday “under a tree as though she was trying to find some relief from the heat, or may have been feeling ill.”

A helicopter crew flown in to recover her body found her husband’s body about 250 yards away.

Alldredge says the couple would have been hiking temperatures in excess of 100 degrees.  It’s believed they died sometime Wednesday afternoon.

Alldredge said:

 “Ulrich may have been trying to get to help when he was also overcome by the heat.”

Officials say the couple had permits to hike through the area, which is near the Utah-Arizona border.

Alldredge noted the danger of hiking in the afternoon heat in the area:

“This is a difficult time of year to be hiking in the Wire Pass area of Kane County.  Add that to the high heat we are experiencing right now, and it makes for a lethal combination. If you must hike, it is best to do it early in the morning, and make sure you have enough water and supplies.”

Located south of Bryce Canyon National Park and north of Grand Canyon National Park, the area is popular with hikers, though permits are required.

Officials allow only 20 permits a day, with 10 issued on the Internet months in advance, while the other 10 are issued by a lottery held the day before.  Officials say last year more than 48,000 applied for 7,300 available tickets.

According to his LinkedIn page, Ulrich Wahli had retired in 2009 after working for IBM for 42 years as a systems engineer and consultant.

Patricia Wahli was a certified interior designer who operated Marconi Designs, a Los Gatos-based interior design company established in 1981.