Grieving WA relatives of a 25-year-old man who is suspected to have died of dehydration after his vehicle bogged on a remote station in the Simpson Desert say he was experienced in the outback.
Mauritz "Mo" Pieterse died after he and a workmate walked hours in almost 47C heat after their Toyota Hilux became stranded 16km from the homestead after inspecting a bore on the Ethabuka reserve, near the Queensland-Northern Territory border, on Monday.
Mr Pieterse collapsed after walking about 6km and his 30-year-old workmate, Josh Hayes, left him beside a tree with their little remaining water and kept going for help.
Police officer Tim Farran said the alarm was raised that afternoon when the men did not return but by the time they were found, Mr Pieterse was dead and Mr Hayes was badly dehydrated and disoriented.
Greg Woods, from neighbouring Carlo Station, found Mr Pieterse's body about 11.30pm on a track and after retracing his path, found Mr Hayes.
Mr Woods said Mr Hayes was near death and he was angry about the mistakes the men made that cost Mr Pieterse his life.
"They broke the golden rule of staying with a vehicle - it shouldn't have happened," he said.
Mr Woods worked to cool a distressed Mr Hayes before he was airlifted to Mt Isa Hospital, where he was in a stable condition yesterday.
Mr Pieterse's parents are expected to fly from their Kalgoorlie home to Queensland as authorities investigate what went wrong.
His sister Jani Pieterse said yesterday her family would never be the same. "We love him dearly and he's going to be very missed," she said.
Mr Pieterse had extensive bush experience, working on the remote Ethabuka and neighbouring Cravens Peak nature reserves for about a year for Bush Heritage and was previously employed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife.
Bush Heritage national operations manager David Whitelaw confirmed the men's vehicle was fitted with a working radio and that Mr Pieterse had done safety training just last week.
Mr Woods said radio signals could be weak in the heat of the day in the dunes where the men were bogged.