Three people died early Monday (October 3) when a motorhome caught fire near the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim entrance.
Park rangers were notified at 7:22 a.m. of a motorhome with smoke in the cab, Shannan Marcak, the park spokeswoman, said.
By the time firefighters arrived to the parking area, the RV was fully engulfed in flames. Once it was extinguished, investigators were able to enter the RV and found the occupants’ remains, Marcak added.
The bodies were taken to the Coconino County medical examiner’s office for autopsies.
The RV was in a parking area along the most-traveled road into the Grand Canyon’s popular South Rim near a sign where tourists often pose for pictures. Authorities had reopened the area to the public by Wednesday (October 5) afternoon after removing what was left of the RV, Marcak said.
Authorities have not released the identities, but a Minnesota school district identified the three as two students and their father, the Washington Post reported.
Jennifer McNeil, a spokeswoman for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District, identified them as Jersey DeHaven, a kindergartener at Skyview School in Oakdale, sixth-grader Jace DeHaven, and their father, Anthony DeHaven, who had been vacationing in Arizona. She said a grandmother of the students informed school officials of the deaths Tuesday.
“Our hearts go out to the entire DeHaven family,” McNeil said. “Jace and Jersey DeHaven were both bright and wonderful students.”
“The accident that tragically took the lives of two of our students has deeply affected the entire Skyview community,” a letter home to children and parents said.
The investigation into the deaths points to a possible murder-suicide, National Park Service officials said Wednesday.
Marcak did not elaborate, other than to say the bodies appear to be those of an adult and two children and that no one else is involved.
One autopsy was conducted Wednesday but the results weren’t released. Marcak said she didn’t expect positive identification until later this week.
I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.