Man, 2 young sons die after hiking in cold on Missouri trail

BLACK, Mo. - REYNOLDS COUNTY, Mo. - A drastic turn in the weather turned a family hiking trip in Missouri into a tragedy.

The bodies of an Illinois man and his two young sons were found along a trail in the Mark Twain National Forest, about two hours south of St. Louis.

When 36-year-old David Decareaux, of Millstadt, Ill., set out on a hike with his two young sons Saturday, it was close to 60 degrees. But while they were out, the temperature dropped and heavy rain started to fall.

The Reynolds County Sheriff said Decareaux and His sons -- 10-year-old Dominic and 8-year-old Grant -- left their mother and three siblings behind and set out from the Brushy Creek Lodge around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. They only had on light-weight pullovers and sweaters, Sheriff Tom Volner said.

About six miles and three and a half hours later, a retired police officer spotted the three where they were turning around to head back to the lodge and offered them a ride.

Volner says they were already wet at that point, but the father declined the offer.

When they didn't return, lodge workers reported them missing.

The sheriff's department, fire department, forestry workers, lodge employees and other civilian volunteers searched for them until after midnight when rising water from the heavy rains made the trail impassable in several spots.

By the time the search party resumed at 7 a.m. on Sunday, the sheriff says temperatures had dropped to the low 20s with sleet and snow falling.

Around 9:30 a.m., they found all three along the trail, deceased.

The sheriff says sometimes children have a better chance of surviving hypothermia and for that reason volunteers took turns giving the children CPR for four hours, but they could not revive them.

"The father was very, from my understanding, was a very experienced hiker, hiked all the time," Volner said. " The wife told me that there has been times when he's been out that he's had to hunker down overnight and then start up the next day because of certain situations."

And while an official cause of death has not been released, the sheriff says it was most likely hypothermia and that likely contributed to the father being confused.

Volner said his legs had injuries like he had fallen at least once. He says it appears that they made their way back to the lodge but then missed a turn and then kept going a couple of miles. They were found along the trail about a 30 minute walk from the lodge owner's home.