WHITE SANDS, N.M. (KRQE) – For the second year in a row, New Mexico State Police are investigating a death at White Sands National Park thought to have occurred over the 4th of July holiday. In the latest investigation, National Park Service (NPS) officials say a man was found off-trail at the park.

Authorities have yet to release the name or age of the victim, only saying he’s a male. In a news release Friday, the investigation started “over the 4th of July holiday weekend” after park rangers found an unoccupied vehicle at the park. It’s unclear exactly when or where the car was found in the park.

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An NPS official says search and rescue teams later found a deceased male “off-trail” at the park. The body was discovered just after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6. New Mexico State Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the man’s death.

While it’s unclear how the man died, White Sands National Park’s Chief of Interpretation Kelly Carroll warns hikers that extreme summer heat can play a major factor between life and death at White Sands. There is no shade or water along any of the trails in the park.

Over the 4th of July holiday weekend in 2021, White Sands officials say Jeffrey Minshew, 63, of Moriarty was found dead, off-trail at the park. No foul play was suspected in Minshew’s death. He was found around 4:40 p.m. on July 5, 2021, roughly 18 hours after park rangers found his car unoccupied in the park during the night of July 4.

Park officials recommend anyone hiking at White Sands during the summer to start during the coolest part of the day, early morning, or early evening. They also advise visitors to bring at least one gallon of water per person per day and “high energy snacks.” Have a plan, wear protective clothing, bring sunscreen, tell people where you’re going, bring a cell phone and if you’re lost, stay put and call 911.