NATCHITOCHES PARISH, La. — A Longview archaeologist who family members describe as kind and excited about her new career passed away while conducting a survey at a Louisiana national forest.
Kaylen Eileen Gehrke, 24, died July 11 because of a sudden medical event in Kisatchie National Forest in southwest Natchitoches Parish Monday afternoon, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office said.
She and her two co-workers were doing a survey for the US Forest Service. when Gehrke became sick.
Gehrke previously lived in Montana before recently moving to Longview to live with her parents and advance her career with Shreveport Cultural Resource Analysts. July 11 was her first day on the job.
Her sister Kylie said she was a kind and caring person who was humble, loved the outdoors and she was excited about her new career in anthropology research.
After her co-workers performed CPR and EMS had attempted to resuscitate her, the sheriff's office said Gehrke was pronounced dead at the scene.
Natchitoches Parish Assistant Coroner Steven Clanton told the sheriff's office there were no signs of foul play. Officials will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death, which could have been heat-related.
The sheriff's office said National Weather Service reported the temperature was 98 degrees with heat indexes of almost 107 degrees.
Gehrke graduated from Golden High School in Colorado in 2016. She then continued her education earning a bachelor's degree in forensics anthropology and a minor in Spanish-English bilingual from the University of Montana.
She is survived by her parents, Ronald and Betsy Gehrke, and her sister. A GoFundMe has been set up on Gehrke's behalf.
"The NPSO continues to express our condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Kaylen Eileen Gehrke during this tragic event," the sheriff's office said.