ST. LOUIS — On a weekend trip that was a surprise anniversary gift for his wife, an outdoors-loving Air Force veteran ventured out with two of his sons for a hike on a remote trail. Clad only in light jackets and sweaters, the three apparently didn’t know how rapidly the weather would turn ugly, and that proved deadly.
Searchers found the soaked bodies of 36-year-old David Decareaux and the two boys — ages 8 and 10 — on the Ozark Trail on Sunday, a day after Decareaux declined a passerby’s offer of a ride back to the lodge where they had been staying, Reynolds County Sheriff Tom Volner said. The cold had killed them, he said.
Only the family’s 4-month-old Labrador retriever survived the hike. He was found near Decareaux, who died at the scene, and the two boys, Dominic, and Grant, who were declared dead at a hospital.
The tragedy crushed Decareaux’s father-in-law, Keith Hartrum, who described the family as tightly knit, ‘‘always on the go and adventurous.’’
It was nearly 60 degrees Saturday morning when Decareaux and his sons set out on the popular trail in southeast Missouri. They were ill-equipped as the temperature sank into the 40s and a storm dropped 2 inches of rain, making the trail all but impassable.
Although Decareaux, who lived in Millstadt, Ill., had a cellphone and flashlight, they lost power, his wife, Sarah, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.