The Near Last Day of Bo Bowen

For Charles “Bo” Bowen, a fight for survival was just the beginning of an ordeal that brought him to death’s doorstep.

The day started out innocently with Charles “Bo” Bowen taking his two teenage daughters Alayna and Alex, their friend Richelle, his girlfriend Ginger, and her two older sons Jordan and Landon out hiking in the North Carolina mountains. 

It was a five-mile hike to a secluded waterfall. There was ample daylight, and despite rough terrain and multiple river crossings, the group made it to the falls without incident. The return trek, however, was a different story.

After crossing a river too soon, Bowen and his family unwittingly found themselves on the wrong path. By the time they realized their mistake, they were miles from the original trail facing treacherous terrain, a setting sun, and a sudden deluge of rain.

The soaked and exhausted hikers found themselves forced to find their way back in the dark with no food, matches, dry clothing, or even cell service or GPS due to the remoteness of the area. They were limited to sips of water from small creeks and the light from a single iPhone to fend off the pitch black.

But despite being surrounded by bears, snakes, and some of the most dangerous terrain in the country, the group made the long journey back through the night, step by careful step. The kids never panicked and pulled together like veteran hikers, exhorting each other not to give up. 

The fatigued and battered group overcame exposure and the elements and fought their way back to civilization after having hiked 22 miles in just over 17 hours.

The celebration was short-lived, however, when Bowen discovered he couldn’t move his arms or legs. Paramedics arrived with IV fluids, assuring him that he was likely just dehydrated. After a round of tests, however, he learned that he was in kidney, liver, and heart failure and was transported to the ICU in Asheville.

His struggles to get himself and his loved ones out of the wilderness had resulted in such severe dehydration that Bowen’s kidneys shut down. When they went, everything else began to follow. The doctor explained that thirty more minutes without fluids would have resulted in the loss of both kidneys. Three more hours and he likely would have died.

Luckily, Bowen made a full recovery and all involved learned a valuable lesson: never venture into the woods without being fully prepared for every eventuality. When the doctor began to stress this fact to Bowen upon his discharge from the hospital, he simply held up his hand.  “Let me just stop you right there,” he said. “I’m sure you have plenty of things to worry about. Me ever going hiking again is not one of them.”


Preventive Screening & Guidelines

According to the Centers for Disease Control, if everyone in the U.S. received recommended clinical preventive care, it  could save over 100,000 lives each year. 
Designed to detect illness at its earliest stages, these preventive screenings run the gamut from blood pressure tests and cholesterol screenings to mammograms, colonoscopies, vaccinations and regular well visits. For many people, certain preventive health care is now free, with no copays or deductibles.

Preventative screenings are a big part of the holistic approach to healtchare practiced at SouthCoast Health. To  learn more about their approach, visit