Latest Information on Tucson Couple’s Fatal Death Valley Camping Trip

A GoFundMe fundraiser for the Death Valley National Park campers whose trip ended in disaster last week has provided a few new details about what happened to the couple.

A few new details of the accident provided by the brother of Emily Henkel on Facebook and a GoFundMe page set up on behalf of the couple and their families. Sadly, Alexander Lofgren succumbed to injuries before he could be rescued. Emily suffered a severe foot injury.

After a three-day search by multiple agencies for the missing couple in Death Valley National Park ended in tragedy Friday when authorities announced that hiker Alexander Lofgren was found dead from his injuries, but that his girlfriend, Emily Henkel, was rescued.

The GoFundMe campaign set up for the couple was created by Emily Henkel’s brother Chris Henkel. After explaining how the couple’s Subaru became stranded with two flat tires in a remote region of Death Valley, Henkel and Lofgren “…tried to make it through Willow Creek Canyon to the nearest road for help.”

Chris Henkel explained on the GoFundMe campaign site that Lofgren passed away during the attempt, and his sister Emily “…suffered a severe foot injury requiring surgery.” No other details have yet been released by the family and the case is still under investigation by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. No further details have been released on Henkel’s condition. Sierra Wave is awaiting a response from the Inyo County Coroner’s Office on when the coroner’s report on Mr. Lofgren will become available.

As of 11:30 p.m. last night, the GoFundMe page, “Support for Emily Henkel and Alex Lofgren’s family,” has raised a total of $28,433 raised of $100,000 goal. As explained by Henkel’s brother, the funding will be used toward medical expenses, rescue efforts, memorial services and supporting the couple’s family.

Chris Henkel wrote on his Facebook page that “We are overwhelmed by the willingness of friends and family to help Emily, and Alex’s family after their accident last Sunday, and the search and rescue effort that followed,” and went on saying, “I would like to honor Alexander Lofgren for being such a loving, strong soul. For serving his country, and protecting my sister to the end.  I will forever be grateful to him with all my heart and soul.” He also noted that support can also be sent directly to Emily via Venmo @emilyhenkel.

Sierra Wave will continue to follow this story and provide new information as it becomes available.

Sad Ending for One of Missing Individuals In Death Valley National Park Rescue

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6 Responses to Latest Information on Tucson Couple’s Fatal Death Valley Camping Trip

  1. Lee Ownby June 18, 2021 at 11:25 am #

    I’m here from a Google search because the original story in page after page of publications offered no information for how Mr. Lofgren died or any mention of “dogs” though the lone picture of the vehicle clearly shows dogs. I am the interested reader, and I’m left with obvious questions. The media doesn’t seem to plan on spending another nickel on this story though. The story could have some value to the public if it was continued. That is something the media doesn’t impress me as caring about. There was a survivor. She may not have witnessed her boyfriends death but she certainly may have some insight into how he died and what the plan was involving the dogs, leaving the car, winding up on a ledge. A lot can be learned here. For a possible example, off road drivers could be reminded that two or ten ordinary thorn flats can easily be fixed with a simple tire plug kit. A full size spare should be in your vehicle before you hit dirt, especially when you only have your own vehicle and not fellow trail riders. Consider driving on your rims. Survival guides suggest you always stay with your car and work out a plan around that. Do these apply? I don’t know. I only know what 60 news media publications told me. A nickels worth of information that really isn’t worth a penny. I did learn that a brother was quick to make sure the death and injury generated 10’s of thousands of donations. Do the dogs get any of that?

  2. John May 8, 2021 at 11:16 pm #

    It was a tragic accident that took this mans life. I wonder if the Eastern Sierra visitor center was open maybe these people could have gotten some advice about where they were going? Maybe we would have a better outcome? Another man died on Whitney recently as well. The Eastern Sierra visitor center was a great resource when it used to be open. I remember a lot of people used to go there for information about both Mt. Whitney and DVNP. It would be a shame to find out they wanted to discuss with a ranger but found it closed. I’m not trying to lay blame but rather bring it up for consideration to help avert another tragedy.

  3. steve s May 6, 2021 at 6:26 am #

    This is such a strange case (2 flat tires, unexplained death, couple found on a steep ledge?), I hope the SW will follow up on this story when the info becomes available. Its already been nearly a month.

    • Charles James May 6, 2021 at 8:50 pm #

      Not all stories we cover can be followed up beyond inquiring on the welfare of the victims. There will be an investigative report from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. Sierra Wave reached out to the family through Ms. Henkel’s brother, to express our and our readers and listeners’ condolences on Mr. Lofgren’s loss of life, and give our best wishes on Ms. Henkel’s swift recovery.

      Sierra Wave will file public records requests with the Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s Office for copies of the reports when they become available. Beyond that, we may or may not follow up with a story. We’d have to feel it was appropriate to do so and added something of value to the story. As in all tragic stories of this nature, to be honest, we try to be respectful of both the privacy of those involved and the extreme sensitivity and trauma suffered by Ms. Henkel and her family.

    • Every Year May 8, 2021 at 9:16 am #

      Unfortunately Steve, this tragic story is not “strange”, unusual, or uncommon in our area. Search and Rescue gets called out to Death Valley at least few times every year. This website has many of the stories. Sometimes the people find help or help finds them. But not always. Some are never found. Every year people die in Death Valley. The area is huge and vast with rugged mountain ranges, canyons and cliffs and has thousands of miles of unmaintained trails and rocky dirt roads that can destroy good off-road tires, let alone the road tires on most vehicles. Visitors tend to expect the extreme high temperatures in Death Valley, but many don’t realize how extremely cold it gets in winter and at night. Millions of people visit the park every year and sticking to the popular areas is safe. However, the well visited tourist spots aren’t for everyone. There are miles and miles of remote areas with no other people, little known canyons, and abandoned mines in the park.
      It is so sad and tragic that this story ended in death and injury for this couple. Especially since it sounds like they were experienced in the rugged outdoors and did many things right, such as carrying lots of water and leaving a note on the car with their direction of travel. Sadly, it was not enough and sadly, it is a familiar occurrence in our area.

  4. Frankly speaking... April 13, 2021 at 9:52 am #

    It is so sad when things like this happen here in the Eastern Sierra and Death Valley. That it happens to anyone is bad, but to see a young couple suffer this heartbreak is especially heart wrenching. How many of us have gone camping with our loved ones and have so many happy memories of them? God bless this couple. I hope Ms. Henkel has a swift recovery from her injuries. Dealing with Alexander’s loss will no doubt be much more difficult.


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