Contoured patterns in the endless white sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico in March, 2014.
Giovanna Dell'Orto—AP
By Maya Rhodan
August 11, 2015

A young French boy’s life was spared after his parents offered him more of the little water they had while hiking on perilous trail in New Mexico. His parents both died and he has since been reunited with his grandmother.

The tourists had traveled to the White Sands National Monument and set out to hike the Alkali Flat Trail, a 4.6 mile journey that takes visitors to the heart of the park’s sand dunes. Because of the extreme heat that visitors can face in the summer, the park recommends visitors carry about a gallon of water with them while on the trail and resting frequently. The park also recommends hiking during cool times—the early morning and evening.

The couple, however, only had two 20 ounce bottles of water among them, according to the Alamogordo Daily News, a local newspaper. And according to CNN, officials believe they started their hike around 1 p.m. local time, when temperatures hovered around 101 degrees.

To keep their son hydrated, the couple reportedly drank one sip of water as he took two. Both of the parents, identified as Ornella and David Steiner, died in the heat. The boy told officials Ornella was trying to head back to the start of the trail when she collapsed. The father and son were attempting to carry out the remainder of the journey, but only made it another 2,000 feet before succumbing to the heat. Rangers later found the bodies and the son next to his dead father.

According to Alamogordo Daily News, the boy’s grandmother flew to New Mexico from France to take care of him.

Write to Maya Rhodan at maya.rhodan@time.com.

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