by Paula Morehouse, KY3 News
6:16 PM CST, January 14, 2013
BLACK, Mo. -- A father and two of his young sons died after getting lost on a hiking trip in Reynolds County on Saturday in the frigid air. David Decareaux, 36, of Millstadt, Ill., was an Air Force veteran known as an experienced hiker. His sons were 8 and 10 years old. Before they got lost, a retired police officer spotted Decareaux and his sons and offered them a ride, but they declined.
The three were on vacation with their family, celebrating a wedding anniversary, when they disappeared. They set off on a hike on Saturday morning from Brushy Creek Lodge in Black. When they didn't return later that day, Decareaux's wife reported them missing.
Reynolds County Sheriff Tom Volner says several agencies searched for the three on Saturday until bad weather forced them to stop looking. The search resumed at 7 a.m. Sunday. Searchers found them around 9 a.m. just west of the trail that they should have used to return to the lodge, said officers. Volner said he suspects they got lost in the rain.
"The wife told me there have been times when he was out that he's had to hunker down overnight and start up the next day because of certain situations. We're in the middle of the national forest down here. It's dark. You can't see the hand in front of your face in the dark," said Volner.
The father died at the scene. His boys, ages 8 and 10, died at a hospital after doctors couldn't save them.
Volner says Decareaux knew the trail but apparently took a wrong turn and was ill-equipped for temperatures that sank from 60 degrees to the 20s. They were dressed for the 60s.
Decareaux's father-in-law said Monday that his daughter and the couple's three other children stayed at the lodge during the hike.
The Associated Press and KSDK-TV, St. Louis, contributed to this report.
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