Loved ones are grieving and demanding answers after a 31-year-old Massachusetts woman was found dead Friday following a hike in searing Arizona heat with an off-duty police officer who reportedly kept climbing as she descended a mountain alone after becoming overheated.
Relatives and friends mourned Angela Tramonte, a Saugus native, whom Phoenix police identified Monday as the woman who died following a hike at Camelback Mountain. Authorities said Monday they do not suspect foul play.
Tramonte’s aunt, Ann O’Leary Tramonte, said Sunday that her niece’s death has stunned the family.
“This is a shock to all of us,” she wrote on Facebook.
Angela Tramonte’s cousin, Ashley Tramonte, wrote on Facebook on Sunday, “This is still so hard to believe, my cousin Angela.”
In a Monday post, Ashley Tramonte thanked everyone who had donated to an online fund-raising page set up to help bring home her cousin’s remains.
“We are all so incredibly heartbroken,” she said.
The fund-raising page described Angela Tramonte as “a beautiful, kind, strong, good hearted woman who would do anything for anyone.”
Tramonte had gone hiking about 10 a.m. Friday with a Phoenix police officer, who called 911 about 1 p.m. to report that she had gone missing, Phoenix police said in a statement Monday.
During the hike, Tramonte decided to head back down the trail and asked the officer to keep going and to take photographs for her to share on social media, police said. They agreed to meet later at the car they had driven, but when the officer returned he could not find Tramonte.
Officials previously said Tramonte had turned back after she became overheated. Phoenix’s high temperature Friday was 104 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
The officer said neither had been carrying water, according to the Monday statement.
Round trip, the trail they were hiking is about 2.5 miles long and is considered to be difficult — an expert level hike when taking into account environmental factors, Phoenix fire Captain Rob McDade said in a telephone interview Sunday.
McDade said when it gets really hot the level of difficulty is comparable to a double black diamond trail in downhill skiing.
“It’s very unforgiving, is the word I like to use. This mountain doesn’t care who you are, or how great of a hiker or an experienced hiker you are,” McDade told reporters at the scene Friday, according to video from ABC 15 in Phoenix. “The mountain, in a situation like that, usually wins.”
Tramonte was found unresponsive about 4:40 p.m. near a home off Echo Canyon Trail, on the northeast side of Camelback Mountain, police said.
Rescuers could not resuscitate her, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. She had her cellphone and had no signs of trauma that were visible or that could be found later during her autopsy, police said Monday.
Tramonte may have been attempting to seek help amid the intense heat, McDade said at the scene Friday.
“But at that point in time, [she] could have conceivably been in the early stages of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, where you become delirious, and unfortunately, your faculties are not about you,” he said.
The officer who was hiking with Tramonte has been given personal time off and is cooperating with investigators, police said.
McDade said Tramonte had arrived in Phoenix just one day before her death, which remains under investigation by Phoenix police.
The Arizona medical examiner’s office will determine the cause and manner of Tramonte’s death, police said.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox. Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.