Monday, December 4, 2023


RVer’s death could have been prevented with a satellite messenger. Don’t let it happen to you!

In April of last year, my wife and I were traveling through central Nevada on the way to Death Valley when we learned about the death of a camper who became stranded in Death Valley.

April 9th, 2021, a camper perished in Death Valley becoming stranded after two flat tires.” — Washington Post Article

It inspired me to write an article on how the camper’s death could have been prevented with a satellite messenger.

Sadly, less than a year later and a hundred miles or so northwest from where the camper perished last April, tragedy struck again as an RVer died after their motorhome got stuck in soft sand due to a navigation error.

Sad outcome for missing RVers: Indiana couple located” — post

Ironically, one of the photos I used in my article to illustrate remote areas (and the need for a satellite messenger) was of an area just north of Silver Peak, Nevada. This was less than 10 miles from where the couple’s motorhome was found in the latest incident.

satellite messenger in desert
Photo taken last April near Silver Peak, Nevada, less than 10 miles from where the couple’s RV became stuck

Deaths could have been prevented with a satellite messenger

Both deaths could have been prevented had they had a satellite messenger with them and utilized it.

I am not faulting anyone for their decisions, equipment or chosen activity. I just want to reiterate bad things can happen when you least expect it.

In neither incident did anyone anticipate vehicle problems or navigation errors. It could have just as easily been a medical situation, getting lost hiking, being a victim of a crime, unusable cell phone, just bad luck, or a host of other possibilities.

The point is, trouble can find you, or loved ones, anytime, anywhere. Doesn’t it make sense to be prepared for trouble anytime, anywhere? Don’t think it can’t happen to you or someone you love, because it can.

Get a satellite messenger for yourself or a loved one. It’s cheap insurance and provides peace of mind.

I hope and pray I don’t find myself writing another article along this line again. Stay safe, my friends.


Satellite messengers on Amazon

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Luke (@guest_243602)
5 months ago

I’ve been traveling in and hiking the deserts in the southwest for over 50 years now and am confident in my skills. That being said, we always have a personal beacon with us. We use to have one that required a yearly subscription but got tired of paying for it when we were at home. Then we found out about the NOAA SEARCH AND RESCUE SATELLITE-AIDED TRACKING (SARSAT) 406 MHz Emergency Distress Beacon. After the initial cost of about 200 bucks for the actual beacon, there is no cost associated with registering it with NOAA. No charging required as the batteries last for years, no monthly or yearly fees. You cannot personalize messages, however, if you’re in an emergency situation, it will summon help to your location. Very cheap insurance when it comes down to it.

Tom (@guest_243643)
5 months ago
Reply to  Luke

What model do you have?

Cal20Sailor (@guest_243654)
5 months ago
Reply to  Luke

The device you have is called an EPIRB, and is among the minimum MANDATORY survival equipment for voyaging sailors and other boaters. It’s excellent emergency insurance for those who see no need for satellite communicators and their annual or monthly payment plans. Check with boating suppliers like West Marine for the different models.

Last edited 5 months ago by Cal20Sailor
Bill Braniff (@guest_243562)
5 months ago

Saying the death could have been prevented If they had a sated;lite phone. Is like saying the car with the bad tires that killed a family of five could have been prevented IF the person had checked his tires and bought new ones. Deaths occur e very minute of every day. Most could have been prevented but , they weren’t. A satellite phone for everyone is beyond a lot of RVers budget limitations. Every time we step out the front door oc our home or camper we are rolling the dice.
Don’t bring more worries into our lives with this IF thing.

Mary (@guest_243607)
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Braniff

I don’t think the writer is recommending a satellite phone (pricy) but rather a satellite devise such as an In-Reach. I have an In-Reach Mini, linked to my phone so I can text for help or just hit the emergency button. I often travel in areas without cell service and this is excellent insurance

Roger Bohnke (@guest_243873)
4 months ago
Reply to  Bill Braniff

Suggest you read the article again. He’s not recommending a satellite phone. He’s recommending an EPIRB, a satellite “MESSENGER”. Garmin, SPOT and others sell these for under $300 and offer subscription plans for as little as $10 a month. Hardly “beyond a lot of RVers budget limitations” for a life saving device when you’re headed out beyond cell coverage in an RV.

Last edited 4 months ago by Roger Bohnke
Bill T (@guest_243560)
5 months ago

Taking something that weighs thousands of pounds and can’t turn on a dime down goat path roads, especially unmarked ones like those designed for short wheel base 4 wheel drive vehicles in search of that “perfect boondock spot” is not always the wisest decision. Prior research and proper planning is a definite must. Likewise, following any GPS suggestion blindly can lead to all kinds of problems. If you require medications daily and are not in good health, at the best of times, perhaps requires a shift in your adventure seeking thoughts. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit without the need for additional risks to yourself an those who travel with you.

Cal20Sailor (@guest_237359)
6 months ago

It’s interesting that people will insure their RVs at a cost of hundreds of dollars each year, but they won’t insure their own lives by simply paying a one-time cost for an EPIRB…

Greg (@guest_237310)
6 months ago

I phone 14 has a SOS feature that works off a satellite. For now it is free.

Roger Bohnke (@guest_243904)
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Free for the first two years. Then there will be a subscription fee.

Amy (@guest_176914)
1 year ago

What on earth is it?

Diane Mc (@guest_176973)
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy

This sentence, below is at the beginning of the article. Click on the blue highlighted “article” and you will get the article he wrote on that product.

It inspired me to write an article on how the camper’s death could have been prevented with a satellite messenger”.

Tom (@guest_176886)
1 year ago

Good article to remind us of the importance of such service. A good follow up article maybe on the various options available and pro and con of each and monthly cost.

Tim (@guest_176888)
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom

I don’t have a clue what “satellite messenger” is.
An article detailing what and how it is would be nice.

Jewel (@guest_237315)
6 months ago
Reply to  Tim

It’s simple but I agree, there is no detail on what they are trying to tell you that you need – it’s a text version of a pager with satellite service that sends your coordinate location to emergency services.

Scott R. Ellis (@guest_176791)
1 year ago

Our ZOLEO satellite communicator allows peace of mind for our kids at home and for us on the road away from my older dad. But it’s still a gadget, susceptible like all of them to failure and error, and so they are the second thing you should have. The first is a jug of water, some granola bars, and a blanket (and meds, if you need them to stay healthy for a couple of days). Simple, foolproof, and life-saving, and you should never leave the main highways without them.

Jeanette (@guest_176787)
1 year ago

Such a tragedy! Unwise choices were made, but in times of extreme stress, that happens, unfortunately. Personally, we never leave home without paper maps, along with the GPS. it has saved us numerous times from bad situations.

Lawrence Neely (@guest_176880)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanette

Except paper maps are what are used for the GPS maps you have now. I have been 4 wheeling since the 1990’s and I have been on a lot of roads the paper maps said existed as regular roads but were not,they were 4 wheel drive or even 2 tracks in the dirt. Paper maps can be just as useless. Whats missing is commnon sense

Last edited 1 year ago by Lawrence Neely
Bill (@guest_176987)
1 year ago
Reply to  Lawrence Neely

Don’t know if it is still true, but some paper maps used to include “copyright errors.” These were extra or missing roads that seemed inconsequential to the publishers but could be used to prove someone had illegally copied the map, because if they made their own map they would have made different errors.

Engineer (@guest_176748)
1 year ago

Many years of coastal and off shore boating you quickly purchase a Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or EPIRB. Costing from $100-$2500, these life saving devices are a must for RVers

Roy Voeller (@guest_176734)
1 year ago

I think it would be pertinent to point out as well, that if a satellite messenger unit(expensive) is a bit out of your price range(affordability) that having a Personal Locator Beacon(PLB) is a less costly choice one can make. It is true that no price can be put on life but for some, the initial outlay for a life-saving device can be lessened a bit. I personally have a PLB that can be upgraded to have the messaging attribute added to it at some point if I wanted to have the messaging feature included.

J J (@guest_176726)
1 year ago

One thing about Garmin’s InReach service, which I have with a 66i, is that you cannot activate the satellite service from the device. You need to do it from a computer. Because the month-to-month service costs $35 each month I keep the satellite subscription shut off but I always carry the 66i with me. If I forget to activate the service, I need Internet service to do it. If I had Internet service I don’t need a satellite messenger. I can see a situation where you’re between cell towers for a few hours but didn’t re-activate the satellite service because you just forgot or decided to take the risk and hoped there would be enough other traffic to save you.

Mary (@guest_243609)
5 months ago
Reply to  J J

I have their bare minimum plan month to month (limited texts but I didn’t get it to chat!) about $11 so I just keep on but it’s a rare month I’m not out in boonies so worth it!

Patty (@guest_176707)
1 year ago

It’s called “ Death Valley “ for a reason.
Why would anyone in there right mind go 4 wheeling in an RV? They are not meant for sand. People who make these “mistakes” choices should not be behind the wheel of any type RV.

Vickie L McClellan Benson (@guest_176774)
1 year ago
Reply to  Patty

I agree. Though both situations are extremely sad, I do believe they could have been avoided. The photo of the latest couples RV shows that it’s tires aren’t so much stuck as the fact that the rear of the motorhome was high centered on the embankment they tried to cross. That and the fact that they left the motorhome to use the car WITHOUT any food, water or their medication is simply unbelievable. I don’t even go to the grocery store without a simple, very basic “emergency kit” in my car & I always have 3 days of my medication in my purse. I feel so sorry for these people and the choices they made.

Bob P (@guest_243608)
5 months ago

Why feel sorry for them THEY made the decision to go there, no one else did. They may be the fore runners of the modern generation of no common sense. I’m sorry if this offends someone, but the truth hurts, you are responsible for the decisions you make.

Tom (@guest_243637)
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Hope you never need any help.

Cee (@guest_243730)
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Why feel sorry for them???? Because we are humans and most of us can feel compassion regardless of the circumstances. Come on P, I believe you have some feelings of compassion buried deep down inside for people who make moronic decisions.

Leslie Berg (@guest_176801)
1 year ago
Reply to  Patty

They didn’t. Reportedly, the satellite mapping had been set, whether intentionally or inadvertently, to the `backroads only’ choice. One of the reasons that I do not use any of this technology is that I’m comfortable with paper maps, and distrust new technology. Lots of people end up in the Mendocino Coastal Range, for example, on non maintained Forest Service roads in winter in small coupes, thinking this is some secret shortcut to the coast from Sacramento. Good way to become a modern Donner Party.
The couple was from Indiana. I expect they didn’t comprehend how much remote public lands the West has, in contrast with the midwest, where basically all land is owned by individuals and none is remote or untravelled.

BILLY Bob Thronton (@guest_176695)
1 year ago

When a tragedy like this happens, its important to study the event. It is ALWAYS multiple bad decisions that cause it. These events have been studied for decades, so it would be wise to read up on how they come to be, and be able to think rationally, should it happen to you.

Drew (@guest_176756)
1 year ago

Agreed. Maybe a simple paper map-or a page from a detailed regional topography map would have alerted these people that the roads they chose weren’t good ones. I know of two companies that publish these maps- one is Delorme (I think). My main point is that you need no new technical gizmos to keep you from getting stuck.

BILLY Bob Thronton (@guest_177123)
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

Drew, so true. Unfortunately, humans sometimes deny their sixth sense, and put themselves, and their loved ones in harms way. We all have done stupid stuff (just ask my wife).

This event was caused by multiple bad decisions, with the aide of “modern global position satellites”. Technology was a contributor here, but you should always apply common sense, and a good PAPER road map, when your sense indicates possible danger.

Roger V (@guest_176676)
1 year ago

I consider our Garmin InReach Mini 2 EPIRB a magical device. Press one button and no matter where you are (with a clear view of the sky of course), the Calvary is on the way! No more worries about cell signals. Also let’s us reassure our kids that we’re ok with the unlimited free check-in messages.

tom (@guest_176651)
1 year ago

Our Ham licenses and equipment provide the similar back-up support. In this case a CB might of helped but very questionable.

Bob P (@guest_243611)
5 months ago
Reply to  tom

With so much garbage on CB I doubt if it would help, especially if you were down in a valley. With the limited range and all the trash people on their you’d be hard pressed to get help in a remote area.

MIke (@guest_176646)
1 year ago

For all the money spent on RVn, a satellite messenger is cheap insurance. When I heard of the situation, I wondered why the couple didn’t have one.

Crowman (@guest_176741)
1 year ago
Reply to  MIke

Most people don’t even know they exist.

Bob P (@guest_243612)
5 months ago
Reply to  Crowman

I’m 80 and never heard of them.

BILLY Bob Thronton (@guest_177125)
1 year ago
Reply to  MIke

Simple, because most are absolutely astonished when their “smart phone” doesn’t have signal. Want proof, find a millennial, sit him down in front of a road atlas, and watch his/her eyes roll up in their heads, when you try and point out the incredibly amout of information that is packed into them.

Bob P (@guest_243613)
5 months ago

The TV and Game Boy they watched growing up didn’t say anything about that!

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