Father, Sons Die Hiking In The Ozarks

    January 14, 2013
    Amanda Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

A family hiking trip turned tragic over the weekend when a father and two of his sons got lost on the Ozark trail and were subjected to freezing temperatures.

36-year old David Decareaux and sons Dominic, 10, and Grant, 8, were found on Sunday morning. Decareaux was pronounced dead at the scene; the boys were airlifted out of the woods but later died at a Missouri hospital.

“They took my babies and worked on them for more than two hours,” wife and mother Sarah Decareaux said. “We are a Christian family. I know where they are now.”

Decareaux and his boys got caught out in the elements after freezing rain swept through the area, and apparently both their flashlight and cell phone lost power. A large search party was called in, but roads and trails became impassible due to flash flooding from nearby creeks and the party had to be called off until daylight came. Despite the tragic ending, Sarah Decareaux said she wanted to make sure those involved in the search knew how much their help was appreciated. She is now left a single mother of three other young children.

The Ozarks are a tricky place to hike, especially at this time of year, when temperatures can plummet quickly. Authorities say that when the Decareaux family set off, the temps were in the 60s. They dropped dramatically into the 20s with all the rain the area received.

Image courtesy of the family. Dominic and Grant are at the far left.

  • jennifer

    This is so sad. I am so sorry to hear about this tragedy. My heart goes out to the family. This would be almost unbearable. I don’t think I could handle this.

  • kathy

    My heart goes out to Sarah Decareaux and her children (as well as other family and friends). What a tragic story. I know your children and husband will be reunited with you in heaven. This lifetime is nothing compared to the eternity you will spend together, but I am so sorry that you have to be seperated in this life. God bless you. I know He has a plan for your life here. We are praying for you and your children.

    • http://webpronews cate lynn

      I blame the dead father for being too stupid to protect his children and should never have gone hiking in freezing temperatures.

      • Bob Hoffman

        EXACTLY–and “mommy” ain’t too “swift,” either…

        • http://osarktragedy colton


      • Mouse

        Neither one of you are “too swift”! Idiots and morans always quarterback with what THEY would have done!

      • Mouse

        Try re-reading the artical; it was in the 60’s, far from freezing!

        • james

          it’s the middle of winter. why would you not plan for the cold?

    • james

      a simple pack of matches would have been a million times more useful than all the religious bs ever spouted.

  • ferd berfel

    Again we see the tragic results of not being prepared to undertake some sort of outdoor activity. The phrase “we’re just going to…..” has killed more people. Check the weather for the next few days to see the conditions are expected, a jacket with hood and preferably at least water resistant, and a space blanket for each and every person on the trip. Think, plan, survive.

  • http://webpronews cate lynn

    Why would he even have taken his children out in the freezing temperatures? There was something more evil behind this. This is something a father should not do, he was NOT protecting his children, and his decision to take his kids out in freezing temperatures, means either he was mentally unstable and could not distinguish right from wrong, or he did this on purpose, maybe suicidal, hidden marital problems? Christians are taught right from wrong, and the wife should have stopped them from going out hiking, she did nothing to stop him from going out there, she is as much to blame as the father was, just stupidity. I feel bad for the 2 kids that died, it did not have to be like this. This whole thing could have been prevented if he just stayed home and realized that you dont take your kids out in freezing temperatures

    • Bob Hoffman

      Stupid IS as stupid DOES…

    • http://yahoo leon

      Well, when he left it was 60 degrees. That’s not exactly freezing temperatures. If you have ever gone hiking you would understand that it is easy to get turned around. This happens even in the daytime. Most cell phones don’t have service up in the mountains and even if you have a flashlight all that is going to do is keep you from triping on limbs etc. It’s not going to help you find your way back.

    • Mouse

      If any of you MORANS would bother to re-read the article, you would notice that it says that the temps were in the 60’s, FAR from freezing! There were no “evil” or “suicidal” intents going on; just ill preparedness for the possibility of a sudden weather change during a DAY HIKE, NOT A CAMPING TRIP. Unfortunately, this type of unprepardness is all too common among day hikers everywhere. As for the the flashlight and cell dieing; get real! Just how long do you expect a flashlight to last?!? Certainly not all night long! In all probability, the cell probably died trying to get a signal and/or being used as a flashlight to try and keep the kids calm. It’s always easy to carp and feel self-rightous about what a person “should have” done after the fact, when in all probability on a nice sunny day 90% of you wouldn’t have given it a 2nd thought and would have done the same thing and if you claim otherwise, your just plain liers! Hindsight is always 20/20!

      • Adam D

        60 degrees, but this is the mountains in January. Check a weather report, we all knew that was the header to a cold front. As for flashlights….everyone should switch to LEDs by now anyhow – they will easily last you an entire night…more like 3 full days. Amazing boon for hikers.

    • Adam D

      Not evil….just careless like most modern people, forgetting nature is out to kill you in most situations if you ignore her.

    • Anna

      Cate Lynn: How many times have you been told to reread the article? Once again, he did NOT take the kids on a hike in freezing temps. It was in the 60’s. An unexpected cold front came in with heavy rain that caused flooding and the temperature DROPPED into the 20’s. Have you ever gotten caught in an unexpected thunderstorm? I’m sure you were prepared with a little fold up umbrella, a ziplock bag with a dry change of clothing, an extra battery for your cell phone, etc. Your lack of empathy is astounding to me. You have accused this poor man for being a mental case, a psychotic killer, and having marital problems to boot! Basically the only place you haven’t gone yet is that they might have been having financial problems and he sacrificed himself and 2 of their children for the sake of his wife and the 3 youngest children because he had large life insurance policies on them. Maybe we should see if the prosecutor can file murder charges against the father and conspiracy charges against the mother…Would that satsfy you Ms. Perry Mason? You said this could all have been avoided if he just stayed home…now that makes a lot of sense…maybe the problem is that you stay home watching the boob tube too much, because you are the biggest boob of all. Truly, Anna

    • Krystal

      Your accusations have no merit and cause even more pain to a mourning family. I will never understand mean spirited people. You’re going to be in a situation one day when you make a decision that others frown upon. I hope you think back to this and realize that you are a judgmental idiot. You say that you feel sorry for the two kids that died. How about the three that are living and will see this garbage?

  • http://Yahoo Aaron R. Alokoa

    All family decisions comes from the Father and Mother because they knew everything much better than the kids. Going out for hiking is a weather decision. Lost three family members in one day? My heart goes out to the family also. May the Lord be with the Mom and remaining kids. God bless.

  • Bob Hoffman

    #1. The idiot (YES, IDIOT!) didn’t have a compass? NO GPS device? Why DID his flashlight stop working? Because the “idiot” most likely did NOT put NEW batteries IN it–duh?!?

    #2. NO “backpack,” with extra clothing/firestarter supplies, etc., etc.,–again, DUH?!?!?

    #3. Did his wife LET him take her children out in “the elements” WITHOUT being PREPARED? I guess SHE is a “shoe in” for “parent of the year!”

    This tragedy COULD have been averted–of course someone with functioning brain cells would have HAD to have been “in the room”…

    • Kevin

      you sir are a heartless pos.

      • Adam D

        While his response is a bit cold-hearted, sadly he’s right. People get killed on dayhikes all the time. If you’re in the hiking community, it’s drilled into you over and over – dont go out without some basic survival gear on any hike of any length. That’s lights, firestarter, warm clothes, emergency signal, emergency blanket, water, etc. A simple few of those and they could have spent an uncomfortable night out, but stayed dry and alive enough for the next day. A tragedy for the family for sure, and they have my sympathy. But you have to take some respect for nature into the woods with you.

        • james

          well said adam.

    • judi

      Let those who casr the 1st stone be judged in their lives by the same measure of compassion they are showing.Shame on you bob hoffman

    • dennis blacharczyk

      You sir are heartless. I guess you never made a stupid mistake in your life? I know I have

  • Debbie

    For those of you condemning thse parents, go back and read this article again. You will realize the temperature was in the 60s when they left. Maybe they didn’t know that the weather was going to turn so cold and so wet so quickly. It’s truly amazing how some people will jump to such a conclusion as cate lynn and Bob Hoffman has done.

    Sarah Decareaux and her other children have enough to deal with and arrangements to make for 3 funerals without these nitwits making such stupid comments. As for me, I will include the family in my prayers that God will bring them peace and comfort. And I would like to see cate and Bob grow some compassion.

    • William

      Beautiful comeback

  • William

    Please go to youtube for info on survival preparation. And I agree most of us don’t have to go find trouble. We prepare for crisis, it comes, my 1st choice evade and ultimately I will confront and engage. I will not comment on the father or mother, she has a lifetime to regret her reluctance to engage her husband on the subject of his lack of preparation.

  • mark phillips

    there are some real Id’s on here. They need to move out here to san diEGO where they can blend in. My apologies to the family for the lower elements of human understanding. Based on what I read though you will forgive them. My heart hurts for you all.

  • Jessica

    for bob hoffman and cate lynn you two dumb asses obviously dont know how to read..you see temps dropped to 20 and that was it if you paid attention you would have seen the the damn temp was in the MID 60s..MORONS and you call yourselves intelligent…can we say uh duh we cant read

    • shane

      I’ve gotta say I’m in the middle here on this one…although the comments below did miss some key points such as the temp when they started vs what it dropped to, I have to agree that regardless, that was a father out with his young sons purposely hiking out in the elements and he should have possessed some basic survival skills to protect them all if he’s going to be dragging them out in the wild depending on him for survival……I mean temps don’t just drop from 60’s to 20’s in a matter of minutes….I’m guessing that’s at least a couple of hours and plenty of time to realize “hey we may not make it back to our starting point so we may need to find shelter and build a fire”. Build a fire….come on…a father out with his young sons….unless he got seriously injured somehow and was unable to take care of business, then I think he just gave up….most likely in the form of “hey lets rest here a few and then move on”….maybe sleeping without a fire and that was all she wrote.

  • Tom

    Having ridden by Schwinn 10 speed bike from Denver to Portland in 1969, when I was sixteen, I’m somewhat normal now, I think of all the close calls that I had on that 1206 mile journey (I cheated like Armstrong for 60 miles from Baker City to Pentleton due to windy conditions) from semi trucks passing within a few feet to running out of water near Maybell, Utah and waving my water bottle hoping that a vehicle would stop and give me water…well I was lucky. Dumping my bike on the asphalt from trying to get away from two fast moving German Shepards, out of Heber, Utah…was also not a pleasant experince. As humans we all take risks when venturing the out of our comfort zone. What about a friend that almost bleed to death when he severed an artery in his leg while he was cutting up an Elk he killed in extremely cold weather. I think we all get comfortable when everything is going well but it is the unexpected that we forget to take into all considerations that we don’t know. It sounds like he was a great dad just taking his kids on a hike and got into trouble…we all will experience a similar experience in life with hopefully a better outcome. Today, I just ask a couple in a stalled jeep if he needed help due to the sever cold? (They had only coats no gloves or hat) He said “No thanks”, shook my hand and said that his daughter and her mechanic husband were on the way to help. The serpentine belt had come off the alternator pulley. What if he had been in mountains with no cell phone service? What about the foggy conditions that caused a huge pile up in California, two people dead, from going to fast for the conditions. And yes, my wife and I were lost on a hike at Mueller State Park out of Divide, Colorado. It was a spring day and we had water and snacks; however, I failed to take into account what the trail signs meant…I was an experince soldier, why would I need to know that! Anyway, we were lost 2 hours into the hike. My wife was not happy. Luckily we ran into hikers that pointed us back to the visitor center. It was not a fun day! My wife hasn’t been on a hike with me since!

    • Aaron

      You said it. Ive had some extremely close calls too. I know what its like to carry on a day or venture thinking you know all the variables to expect and suddenly be within inches of your life ending. Stories I could tell: flash floods leaving me on a peninsula in the middle of an electrical storm with lightning strikes only feet away- ankle high in water at night, 18 wheelers appearing out of nowhere on my bike, crossing a log over a freezing swollen creek as a kid and slipping in…

      It is all so fragile every day, and the world is full of unexpected turns. Thank you.

  • Liz R

    As a family friend of David Decareaux Sr. I know that David Jr. was a great and loving father who was devoted to his wife and family. He wouldn’t have done anything to hurt his children. He loved his family very much. Sarah is a great mom and doesn’t deserve the trashing she is getting by you second hand, would have, could have, should have, assholes. It was a beautiful day when they left the camp she didn’t allow them to go off in the cold or a storm. This was just an unfortunate situation that ended in a great tragedy to a really great family. To Bob Hoffman, Leon, and Cate you are some heartless bitches that can’t read or either just like to spout you mouth about shit you know nothing about. This woman has lost her husband and 2 of her children, I hope you never have to know her pain at this moment. I hope if you do, that there are some punk ass bitches tearing you down instead of lifting you up. That way you can know how it feels to be kicked in the teeth while your down on the floor. Thats the major problem with people like you, you want people to feel your pain, but yet have no compassion for those around you. Stop judging people you don’t know a thing about.I can only hope and pray that none of the family gets to read the horribly mean things you have written here. You have made me so mad that i wish i could just bitch slap all three of you.

    • Anna

      Liz R: I know nothing about this family and you expressed my sentiments exactly. Thanks for putting into words my thoughts. The only part I don’t agree with is when you said the pain she is feeling right now…the loss of a child never lessens. It is a surreal constant pain, and unfortunately it remains equally intense. Line them up because I and countless others would like to join you in the bitch slapping. Sincerely, Anna

    • Aaron

      Thank you LizR. This was very hard to read, he was obviously a very loving father and I see no fault here. It could have easily happened to me, having some faith in the most expectable of fates can often be an innocent mistake; it happens every day, the path taken, the seemingly causal choices made. There is so much pain here not only for the mother, but I know how the cold can dim ones senses so quickly and confuse one, especially under pressure. And what tremendous pressure he must have felt.

      The boys probably never could’ve conceived of what might happen, but I know it haunted the father to the end. The only mercy was that the cold undoubtedly anesthetized them very quickly. I can only hope it also gave the father some mental relief before the end so he had a few moments peace from the horrible reality before it ended and didnt have to go mourning his fate and ht of his beloved sons.

  • judi

    Let those who cast the 1st stone be judged by the same amount of compassion they have shown for this family.So easy to say what they would have or have not done.THEY WERE NOT THERE.

    • comeon

      When people read about a situation where small children died a senseless death, they tend to over-react. It is what it is.

  • comeon

    bottom line – common sense has to prevail when you set out to go hiking. I don’t go for a day hike anywhere without first packing for the worst. I pack bottled water, energy bars, matches/fire starters, small tent, change of clothes, compass, extra flashlight/batteries -you name it I’ve got it. Sure, hauling the backpack might be a pain at times, but so what? I like being out in nature and with that comes the realization that at any moment I need to be prepared. I’ve taken my kids hiking many times and all of them tote their backpacks along with the items necessary for the “what it”. My heart goes out to this family. Such a sad, tragic and completely avoidable situation.

  • Helene Kilianski

    It is a terrible tragedy but as many people have already pointed out, an entirely avoidable one. I have no hiking experience but common sense would dictate that in January the potential for the weather to turn colder at night does not exactly take a rocket scientist to anticipate. Even when driving in my car to an unfamiliar destination I make sure my phone is charged and I have mapped out my directions. At the very least the father should have had a compass.

  • joe

    Wonder what Jesus was thinking.

  • james

    “he was an experienced hiker”, what am i missing? is there more to the story that we’re not getting? there is no way anyone in their right mind would go hiking in that area at this time of year with two young children and not take even the barest essentials for survival.

  • Cynthia

    The whole story is strange. He takes his wife on a “surprise” vacation during January, the worst time of year, but instead of spending time with her, takes two of the boys out for an all day hike. Even though the little son was only eight, and the puppy was just a few months old, he turns down a ride? After three hours of hiking? Surely it was getting cold by then. Plus, his father-in-law says he was working for the defense department on a top secret project. Someone with a military background, and a high-level defense department job…with non-working flashlight and phone. He didn’t check the weather report? What was he doing out there?

  • TrueHiker

    I’m a trained wilderness medic, practice survival & endurance skills every week and do ultra distance & extreme weather treks. This guy was an idiot! My kids are the same age. I’ve been in the Ozarks & there’s natural supplies everywhere. Jan. is a dump time to go without all survival gear & brains to use it. My sorrow is for those kids and remaining family. The father was an idiot.