A Campbell couple was found dead Thursday in the Utah wilderness, apparently having been overcome by heat while hiking.

Ulrich and Patricia Wahli had permits to hike Wednesday to the Wave, a popular destination in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Kane County sheriff's Sgt. Alan Alldredge wrote in a news release. The temperature that day exceeded 100 degrees.

Thursday, other hikers found the body of 69-year-old Patricia Wahli lying under a tree "as though she was trying to find some relief from the heat, or may have been feeling ill," Alldredge said.

A helicopter crew flew in to retrieve the body. While at the scene they found Ulrich Wahli's body about 250 yards away.

Ulrich Wahli, 70, may have been trying to get help when he died in the heat, according to Alldredge. Investigators believed they died sometime Wednesday afternoon.

"This is a difficult time of year to be hiking in the Wire Pass area of Kane County," Alldredge said. "If you must hike, it is best to do it early in the morning, and make sure you have enough water and supplies."

The route from Wire Pass to the Wave is only three miles, but it is not marked and navigation is notoriously challenging.

According to his LinkedIn page, Ulrich Wahli went by "Ueli" and was an accomplished IBM systems engineer who worked for the famed tech giant for more than 40 years before retiring in 2009. He started working at the company's offices in Switzerland upon his graduation from ETH Zurich, a university renowned for its engineering and science pedigree.


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He listed "growing cacti" as one of his interests, and in front of the Campbell home where the couple lived for decades, large specimens of the spiny plants make up the centerpiece of a well-tended garden.

Neighbors said the Wahlis were friendly but largely kept to themselves.

Rosemary Luck, who lives next door, said she became acquainted with Patricia when they would both be outside gardening at the same time. She said the couple would travel quite often, but she believed most of their trips were to Europe.

The Wave is a popular photo subject and hiking destination that allows only 20 visitors' permits each day. Ten permits are reserved in advance, and 10 are issued each day in a lottery at the Grand Staircase-Escalante visitors center in Kanab, according to Alldredge.

Up to 100 people have arrived at the visitors center for a single day's lottery. Last year, more than 48,000 people applied for the 7,300 available permits.

"This is such a tragedy," said neighbor Luck. "I keep trying to think why something like this could happen to this couple."

Mercury News staff writers Robert Salonga and Eric Kurhi contributed to this report.