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Man Dies of Thirst During Survival Test
AP ^ | 5-2-2007 | ED WHITE

Posted on 05/02/2007 3:45:25 PM PDT by Types_with_Fist

BOULDER, Utah - By Day 2 in the blazing Utah desert, Dave Buschow was in bad shape. Pale, wracked by cramps, his speech slurred, the 29-year-old New Jersey man was desperate for water and hallucinating so badly he mistook a tree for a person.

After going roughly 10 hours without a drink in the 100-degree heat, he finally dropped dead of thirst, face down in the dirt, less than 100 yards from the goal: a cave with a pool of water.

But Buschow was no solitary soul, lost and alone in the desert. He and 11 other hikers from various walks of life were being led by expert guides on a wilderness-survival adventure designed to test their physical and mental toughness.

And the guides, it turned out, were carrying emergency water on that torrid summer day.

Buschow wasn’t told that, and he wasn’t offered any. The guides did not want him to fail the $3,175 course. They wanted him to dig deep, push himself beyond his known limits, and make it to the cave on his own.

Nearly a year later, documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act reveal those and other previously undisclosed details of what turned out to be a death march for Buschow. They also raise questions about the judgments and priorities of the guides at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. What matters more: the customer’s welfare or his quest?

“It was so needless. What a shame. It didn’t have to happen,” said Ray Gardner, the Garfield County sheriff’s deputy who hiked six miles to recover Buschow’s body. “They had emergency water right there. I would have given him a drink.”

Family members are angry.

“Down in those canyons it’s like a furnace,” said Rob Buschow of Glen Spey, N.Y. “I don’t have my brother anymore because no one would give him water.”

While regretting the tragedy, the school, known as BOSS, has denied any negligence and instead blamed Buschow, saying the security officer and former Air Force airman did not read course materials, may have withheld health information and may have eaten too heavily before leaving River Vale, N.J., for the grueling course.

Noting Buschow signed liability waivers, the school said: “Mr. Buschow expressly assumed the risk of serious injury or death prior to participating.”

Garfield County authorities declined to file charges, saying there was insufficient evidence the school acted with criminal negligence. The prosecutor said participants knew they were taking a risk.

The U.S. Forest Service, however, has stopped BOSS from using Dixie National Forest for a portion of the 28-day course this summer until it gets outside advice on providing food and water. The agency said it was the first death of a participant in a BOSS survival exercise.

The Colorado-based school dates to the late 1960s. In 1994, BOSS alumnus Josh Bernstein, a New Yorker with an Ivy League education, took over marketing and administration and later became owner. He also is host of the History Channel’s “Digging for the Truth,” a show that takes viewers on archaeological adventures around the world.

BOSS emphasizes personal growth through adversity, and using your wits to survive. The mantra: “Know more, carry less.”

BOSS has wilderness courses lasting just a few days to a month. During the 28-day survival course, held 250 miles from Salt Lake City, campers are required to hike for miles and drink what they can find from natural sources.

Tent, matches, compass, sleeping bag, portable stove, watch — all have no role. Campers are equipped with a knife, water cup, blanket and poncho and are told they could lose 20 pounds or more. Among the things they learn is how to catch fish with their hands and how to kill a sheep with a knife.

The course is intended to push people “past those false limits your mind has set for your body.”

“Somewhere along the many miles of sagebrush flats, red rock canyons, and mesa tops of Southern Utah — somewhere between the thirst, the hunger and the sweat — you’ll discover the real destination: yourself,” BOSS says on its Web site.

Buschow had marched the arctic tundra in Greenland. And after leaving the Air Force, he worked security at U.S. bases outside the country. He recalled his days as a Boy Scout in his May 2006 application to BOSS.

“Although in the yrs since, I have continued to appreciate Mother Nature,” he wrote by hand, “I still haven’t ever truly immersed myself in her embrace. I fear that I’m becoming a ‘comfort camper,’ having never come close to looking her in the eyes.”

Buschow described himself as 5-foot-7 and about 180 pounds, with a resting pulse of 66. A New York doctor checked a box declaring him fit for a survival program. Buschow signed the application, acknowledging that BOSS was not offering a “risk-free wilderness experience.”

The documents obtained by the AP disclose the brief but bitter wilderness adventure of Buschow:

On July 16, he gathered here with the 11 others, including some from England and a college student who had bicycled from Maine. Most were in their 20s and 30s. They ran 1 1/2 miles so the staff could assess their conditioning.

Buschow “was not the most in-shape but not the most out of shape,” recalled camper Charlie DeTar, 25, the cross-country bicyclist.

On the second day, after a cool night, the group set out around sunrise and stopped about 8:30 a.m. to dip their cups into Deer Creek in what turned out to be the only water until evening. Buschow pulled a bottle from his pack — but was warned by the staff not to fill it.

During the early phase of the expedition, participants can drink water at the source only and cannot carry it with them.

The group, led by three guides, formed a loose chain, with stronger hikers ahead of people struggling at the 6,000-foot elevation, or more than a mile above sea level.

“We didn’t cover all that much distance, maybe five to six miles. We were moving slowly, a lot of up and down,” DeTar said in an interview from Vermont. “You don’t have food, you don’t have water, so you have to move at the slowest pace of the group.”

They rested periodically under pinons and junipers, all the while looking for signs of water, such as green vegetation in canyon bottoms. At least two attempts to dig for water failed.

Not everyone had close contact with Buschow, but a consensus emerges from the campers’ written accounts obtained by the AP: While cheerful, encouraging and coherent at times, he was a man in deep trouble hours before he collapsed.

“We were all desperate for water,” a camper wrote. “Every time (Buschow) would fall or lie down, it took a huge amount of effort to pick him back up. His speech was thick and his mouth swollen.”

“Every time he continued, he’d rush ahead, often in the wrong direction and so exhausting himself even more,” the camper wrote.

The sun was described as blazing, inescapable. “There were no clouds,” a camper wrote.

Some people vomited that day, including a man who got sick three times — a typical misery on the rigorous course, according to BOSS. Buschow was suffering from leg cramps about 2:30 p.m. and said he was feeling “bad.”

During a break, he mistook a tree for a person and said, “There she is.”

“This was the first point at which I became concerned knowing that delirium happens when dehydration becomes severe,” a camper wrote. Buschow “also asked if there was much air traffic that went through here, and asked if anyone had a signal mirror.”

(The Forest Service, citing privacy concerns, deleted certain names from documents.)

By 7 p.m., as the sun descended and temperatures cooled a bit, the group approached a cave in Cottonwood Canyon, known to BOSS guides as a reliable source of water.

Buschow’s companions were carrying his possessions for him. Within earshot of people exhilarated about the pool of water, he collapsed for the last time.

“He said he could not go on,” staff member Shawn O’Neal wrote two days later in a statement ordered by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. “I felt that he could make it this short distance and told him he could do it as I have seen many students sore, dehydrated and saying ‘can’t’ do something only to find that they have strength beyond their conceived limits.”

O’Neal didn’t inform Buschow about his emergency water.

“I wanted him to accomplish getting to the water and the cave for rest,” he wrote. “He asked me to go get the water for him. I said I was not going to leave him. … Shortly thereafter I had a bad feeling and turned to Dave and found no sign of breathing.”

A staff apprentice climbed to the top of a dead juniper to get reception for a cellular call to the Boulder office.

Five people took turns trying to revive Buschow while red biting ants crawled over his face. A rescue helicopter from Page, Ariz., arrived about 90 minutes after he passed out, but a defibrillator failed to jump-start his heart. Campers gathered in a circle for the news: “Dave is dead.”

They had a moment of silence and ate almonds, sesame sticks and energy bars distributed by staff, the first food since sandwiches more than 24 hours earlier.

Buschow’s death was caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, according to Dr. Edward Leis, Utah’s deputy chief medical examiner, who found no evidence of drugs or other factors.

DeTar, a camper who performed CPR, said no one was told that BOSS guides carried emergency water, but “I heard it slosh” in a pack.

Should it have been offered to Buschow? And if it’s for an emergency, what triggers it?

“Hard to say,” said DeTar, who has a master’s degree from Dartmouth College and is trained in wilderness first aid. “One thing that BOSS offers you is an opportunity to push yourself physically into the red zone. … He was 200 feet from the water. Is that the point where you give it to him? Or 500 feet?”

Bernstein, the school’s owner, agreed to answer questions only by e-mail. He said BOSS instructors can give water based on their assessment of a camper’s needs.

“The group appeared to be within the normal parameters we’ve seen on the trail over the years,” Bernstein said. “Many were, understandably, tired, but morale was high and the participants were determined to continue. … He seemed capable of completing the hike to camp that evening.”

In a Feb. 27 letter to the Forest Service, Bernstein said Buschow may not have trained properly, pointing to comments he made to another camper about drinking a gallon of water a day and eating cheesesteaks to bulk up before the expedition.

His brother, Rob Buschow, said: “It’s sickening when they blame the victim.”

After Buschow’s death, five people left the course. The six campers who completed the exercise returned to the site to leave a bouquet of foliage and a marker of stones.

“I didn’t want to have the fear of the desert instilled in me because of this incident,” DeTar said.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; US: Utah
KEYWORDS: darwin; davebuschow; dehydration; euphoria; newjerseyman; utahdesert
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1 posted on 05/02/2007 3:45:29 PM PDT by Types_with_Fist
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To: Types_with_Fist
They wanted him to dig deep, push himself beyond his known limits, and make it to the cave on his own.

They call them limits for a reason.
2 posted on 05/02/2007 3:48:30 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Greed is NOT a conservative ideal.)
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To: Types_with_Fist
and hallucinating so badly he mistook a tree for a person.

It's not the first time that has happened.


3 posted on 05/02/2007 3:49:23 PM PDT by South40 (Amnesty for ILLEGALS Is A Slap In The Face To The USBP!!)
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To: Types_with_Fist
The guides did not want him to fail the $3,175 course.

I would consider not surviving a survival course to be an indication of failure.

4 posted on 05/02/2007 3:49:28 PM PDT by SmithL (si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: South40

LOL!


5 posted on 05/02/2007 3:49:49 PM PDT by Types_with_Fist (I'm on FReep so often that when I read an article at another site I scroll down for the comments.)
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To: cripplecreek

I am not sure which is worse. A promising young pitcher who drives drunk and dies, or this. My prayers for both their families.


6 posted on 05/02/2007 3:50:02 PM PDT by Perdogg (Cheney-Bolton 2008)
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To: Types_with_Fist

If you are learning survival tips in a $3,000+ course, shouldn’t one of the tips be not to travel during the heat of the day when you are low on water and risk severe dehydration? If I were trying to survive such conditions, I would travel in the early morning or after the heat of the sun started to dissipate.


7 posted on 05/02/2007 3:51:23 PM PDT by Cecily
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To: tioga; Cyber Liberty; Doohickey; LonePalm; cripplecreek
Ya can’t continue crawling if you’re unconscious.

Now, if you’re conscious, aware, and need to “rest” before continuing to struggle - go on - the guide SHOULD
“let” you struggle.

But to deny water to a man unconscious to “teach him a lesson” is murder - regardless of how far he is from the water.

8 posted on 05/02/2007 3:53:47 PM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but Hillary's ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: Types_with_Fist
“He asked me to go get the water for him. I said I was not going to leave him. …

At this point it was criminal act.

9 posted on 05/02/2007 3:53:59 PM PDT by Orange1998
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To: Types_with_Fist
In a Feb. 27 letter to the Forest Service, Bernstein said Buschow may not have trained properly, pointing to comments he made to another camper about drinking a gallon of water a day and eating cheesesteaks to bulk up before the expedition.

No kidding. Didn't someone tell him that if there is plantlife, like the tree he mistook for a person, that he could get water out of the plants? Desert plants are full of water.

10 posted on 05/02/2007 3:54:29 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: Types_with_Fist

It is the responsibility of the company guides to monitor and intervene when the life of a client is threatened. This story says wrongful death lawsuit at the very least all over it.


11 posted on 05/02/2007 3:55:03 PM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: Types_with_Fist

I wonder if he was cremated.


12 posted on 05/02/2007 3:56:20 PM PDT by Mark was here (Hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance?)
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To: Types_with_Fist
“One thing that BOSS offers you is an opportunity to push yourself physically into the red zone. … He was 200 feet from the water. Is that the point where you give it to him? Or 500 feet?”

Maybe when he's delusional? Can't walk? See's Algore? His mouth get's swollen?

Oops.

13 posted on 05/02/2007 3:56:24 PM PDT by Doomonyou (Let them eat lead.)
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To: Cecily
If you are learning survival tips in a $3,000+ course, shouldn’t one of the tips be not to travel during the heat of the day when you are low on water and risk severe dehydration? If I were trying to survive such conditions, I would travel in the early morning or after the heat of the sun started to dissipate.

How about one of the tips being, to fill your canteen when they were at a small creek the day before.

Oh, but he was told not to. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB!

14 posted on 05/02/2007 3:56:37 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: Doomonyou

This O’Neal-“He asked me to go get the water for him. I said I was not going to leave him. … Shortly thereafter I had a bad feeling and turned to Dave and found no sign of breathing.”-

is an imbecile.


15 posted on 05/02/2007 3:57:37 PM PDT by John W
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To: Perdogg

Did they find Cardinal drinking??


16 posted on 05/02/2007 3:57:45 PM PDT by Orange1998
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To: SpaceBar
It is the responsibility of the company guides to monitor and intervene when the life of a client is threatened. This story says wrongful death lawsuit at the very least all over it.

Maybe John Edwards will take the case. He needs the cash since they built their last 12,000 square foot house and cannot sell their Georgetown home for less than $2.3 Mil

17 posted on 05/02/2007 3:59:41 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: Orange1998
Did they find Cardinal drinking??

Cardinal Egan?

18 posted on 05/02/2007 4:00:23 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: Cecily
You are most correct.

Water conservation is the key. Travel in the cooler parts of the day and keep your cloths on and your head covered. That keeps the sweat in the cloths and evaporating slower. You will feel hotter but slow the sweating process.

I always hated desert survival exercises but am (was)quite good at it.

19 posted on 05/02/2007 4:00:54 PM PDT by PeteB570 (Guns, what real men want for Christmas)
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To: glock rocks

Things are starting to fall into place about people and Utah...


20 posted on 05/02/2007 4:02:13 PM PDT by tubebender
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To: John W
Shortly thereafter I had a bad feeling and turned to Dave and found no sign of breathing.”-

You would think these idiots might have some medical training to identify the signs heat exhaustion, besides "he's not breathing."

21 posted on 05/02/2007 4:02:54 PM PDT by Doomonyou (Let them eat lead.)
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To: Types_with_Fist; Lijahsbubbe
He asked me to go get the water for him. I said I was not going to leave him.

How touching.

It was a survival course; somebody was bound to fail it eventually. Very sad. How many others have appeared in as bad a shape as this guy, yet made it through? Ugh.

22 posted on 05/02/2007 4:02:58 PM PDT by Thinkin' Gal
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To: Types_with_Fist
O’Neal didn’t inform Buschow about his emergency water.

“I wanted him to accomplish getting to the water and the cave for rest,” he wrote. “He asked me to go get the water for him. I said I was not going to leave him. … Shortly thereafter I had a bad feeling and turned to Dave and found no sign of breathing.”

In my book, this is negligent homicide.

The man asked for water a 100 yards away from the source.

I would think that if he could have gone another 100 yards to get it, he would have.

23 posted on 05/02/2007 4:03:21 PM PDT by Popman (New American Dream: Move to Mexican, cross the border, become an illegal. free everything)
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To: Orange1998

Let me back up a bit before I get blasted by some one. Reports are he left the bar Saturday night after being offered a cab by the staff.

All signs would led a reasonable man to conclude that he was drunk.


24 posted on 05/02/2007 4:03:23 PM PDT by Perdogg (Cheney-Bolton 2008)
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To: Types_with_Fist

Darwin Alert! Darwin Alert!


25 posted on 05/02/2007 4:05:10 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (Warning. If your tagline is funny... I may steal it.)
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To: John W

So are the 6 people who continued on with the “course” after this participant’s death.


26 posted on 05/02/2007 4:06:01 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: PeteB570

Unlike this guy you are still alive to write about it, thank the Lord and your skills.....It sounds to me the leaders of this group did not know what they were doing....what say you ?


27 posted on 05/02/2007 4:06:30 PM PDT by Kimmers (Coram Deo)
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To: South40

LOL!!!!!


28 posted on 05/02/2007 4:09:15 PM PDT by TomServo ("Jim Henson's Flying Leatherneck Babies!")
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To: Doomonyou
You would think these idiots might have some medical training to identify the signs heat exhaustion, besides "he's not breathing."

Vomiting is a sure sign of heat stroke.

29 posted on 05/02/2007 4:09:28 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: Cecily
If you are learning survival tips in a $3,000+ course, shouldn’t one of the tips be not to travel during the heat of the day when you are low on water and risk severe dehydration?

Another really useful tip would have been: If you find a stream and have a bottle, fill it. Surviving is more about using all of your resources than about being "tough".

30 posted on 05/02/2007 4:10:22 PM PDT by BearCub
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To: Orange1998
At this point it was criminal act.

Is not helping someone a criminal act now?

31 posted on 05/02/2007 4:11:41 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (Killing all of your enemies without mercy is the only sure way of sleeping soundly at night.)
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To: Perdogg
Let me back up a bit before I get blasted by some one. Reports are he left the bar Saturday night after being offered a cab by the staff.

All signs would led a reasonable man to conclude that he was drunk.

Great, he started out dehydrated from drinking.

Don't these dummies know that booze dehydrates body cells?

32 posted on 05/02/2007 4:11:48 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: Centurion2000

Oh yeah, in some cases. Google “Good Samaritan Laws.”


33 posted on 05/02/2007 4:13:04 PM PDT by Constantine XIII
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To: Mark was here
I wonder if he was cremated.

Sounds like he evaporated.

34 posted on 05/02/2007 4:13:11 PM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: Types_with_Fist

I keep re-reading this article and it just makes my heart sad, that supposedly competent people couldn’t or wouldn’t recognize some one in dire straights.

- DeTar...is trained in wilderness first aid
- O’Neal didn’t inform Buschow about his emergency water.
- Bernstein, the school’s owner...said instructors can
give water based on their assessment of a camper’s needs.

there has to be a civl suit in here somewhere...


35 posted on 05/02/2007 4:13:23 PM PDT by stylin19a (Bad golf shots come in groups of 3, a 4th bad shot is the start of the next group of 3.)
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To: needlenose_neely
Vomiting is a sure sign of heat stroke.

And these geniuses did nothing and let him die.

36 posted on 05/02/2007 4:15:21 PM PDT by Doomonyou (Let them eat lead.)
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To: Cecily
If you are learning survival tips in a $3,000+ course, shouldn’t one of the tips be not to travel during the heat of the day when you are low on water and risk severe dehydration?

Makes sense to me. My son has been working on his wilderness survival merit badge. For each trip they were required to bring a certain amount of water.

37 posted on 05/02/2007 4:17:18 PM PDT by HungarianGypsy
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To: BearCub
Surviving is more about using all of your resources than about being "tough".

Bingo. And that's what the instructors should have been teaching...instead, it sounds like they got a rise out of tormenting their customers.

I'd say they deserve to be sued.

38 posted on 05/02/2007 4:20:41 PM PDT by RosieCotton
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To: Doomonyou
Vomiting is a sure sign of heat stroke.

And these geniuses did nothing and let him die.

Obviously they are products of their environment. Stupidity breeds stupidity.

39 posted on 05/02/2007 4:22:34 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: tubebender

Lots of athletic types get their heads handed to them coming here thinking they can out hike the old farts. It’s amazing what an elevation difference of a mile or more can do to a seaboard ego. Also, when you live on the coast, 90 degrees can be unbearable.

I would much rather spend a day in the desert at 6000 ft. and 100 degrees than an hour in Mobile at 90 degrees.

Actually, I’d rather spend a week in solitary confinement than an hour in Mobile.


40 posted on 05/02/2007 4:23:14 PM PDT by glock rocks (crazy mutant desert guy)
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To: Popman

It’s also illegal in Texas. State law says that if you have water surplus to your own survival needs and someone asks you for water, you *must* give it to them.

It would also be another offense - failure to stop and render aid.


41 posted on 05/02/2007 4:23:24 PM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Types_with_Fist

There is no reason any man under your command should die of thirst if you have water available....

The guide should be prosocuted for manslaughter.....

I don’t care if the idiot pressed on or not....


42 posted on 05/02/2007 4:24:08 PM PDT by nevergore (?It could be that the purpose of my life is simply to serve as a warning to others.?)
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To: Types_with_Fist

Wow... he could have been in a radio contest and had all the water he wanted for free.


43 posted on 05/02/2007 4:27:57 PM PDT by steveo (Is there anything else I can help you with today?)
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To: glock rocks
I would much rather spend a day in the desert at 6000 ft. and 100 degrees than an hour in Mobile at 90 degrees.

Try Parris Island in July and August some time.
95-105 degrees at 100% humidity. Actually, jungle gear will keep your skin cool in those conditions.

If that cat had been wearing a long sleeved cotton, flannel shirt, he would have not dehydrated or gotten so hot so fast. The sweat absorbed by the cotton keeps the skin cool and reduces the dehydration rate.

44 posted on 05/02/2007 4:32:46 PM PDT by needlenose_neely
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To: HungarianGypsy; Cecily
If you are learning survival tips in a $3,000+ course, shouldn’t one of the tips be not to travel during the heat of the day when you are low on water and risk severe dehydration?

Makes sense to me. My son has been working on his wilderness survival merit badge. For each trip they were required to bring a certain amount of water.

If one of their clients didn't survive, they're not doing a good job of teaching survival.

45 posted on 05/02/2007 4:39:27 PM PDT by fanfan ("We don't start fights my friends, but we finish them, and never leave until our work is done."PMSH)
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To: Types_with_Fist

They all should have failed the course for not recognizing signs of impending death. Then the people who run the course could charge them again to take it over.


46 posted on 05/02/2007 4:41:28 PM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
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To: Types_with_Fist

So they get to stab sheep to death? Wow, what a neat trip. Sounds like the idiots running the place should get an animal cruelty charge thrown in.


47 posted on 05/02/2007 4:44:01 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: glock rocks

Set me loose on Rodeo Drive with an American Express Platinum card and a bottle of Perrier...now THAT’s survival!;)


48 posted on 05/02/2007 4:44:37 PM PDT by Frank_2001
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To: Types_with_Fist

“During the early phase of the expedition, participants can drink water at the source only and cannot carry it with them.”

Bunch of stupid asses. At what point in “immersing” ones self in mother natures “embrace” does one drink water and then move on WITHOUT filling a canteen with water for later.


49 posted on 05/02/2007 4:46:33 PM PDT by TalBlack
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To: Centurion2000

In Texas it would be. To bad you would walk right pass him with your bottle of water.


50 posted on 05/02/2007 4:51:55 PM PDT by Orange1998
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