Authorities believe Donna Miller may have died of heat-related illness and environmental exposure

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Brown's Ranch Trailhead
Brown's Ranch Trailhead
| Credit: Getty

A day spent hiking in Arizona took a devastating turn for one Rhode Island couple after the wife was found dead.

The body of Donna Miller, 57, was discovered by search and rescue teams just after 9 p.m. on Saturday in the Brown's Ranch hiking trail system in Scottsdale, The Arizona Republic reported, citing the Scottsdale Police Department.

Though Miller's cause of her death has not yet been determined, the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner, along with police, believe it may be due to heat-related illness and environmental exposure, according to the outlet and Fox affiliate KSAZ.

Miller went missing earlier on Saturday while hiking the popular trail with her husband, AzFamily.com reported.

Her husband reportedly told police that they started hiking around 12:30 p.m and eventually got separated but planned to meet up a short time later. When Miller failed to show up to the meeting spot around 3:15 p.m., her husband called 911, per the outlet.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Maricopa County Mountain Rescue Team, along with firefighters from the Scottsdale and Phoenix Fire Department, all rushed to the scene, where they launched a search, according to AzFamily.com.

After six hours of searching, Miller's body was finally found, police confirmed to The Arizona Republic.

Miller's death came hours before the National Weather Service in Phoenix issued an excessive heat warning, beginning on Sunday at 10 a.m. through Monday at 8 p.m, with highs expected to hit 109 degrees.

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As a result of the warning, some hiking trails in Phoenix were closed. The decision to shut down the trails is part of a pilot program that the city has in place to prevent heat-related deaths, according to AzFamily.com.

However, the City of Scottsdale doesn't currently have a similar program in place, which has led to the rise of more mountain rescues this summer, the outlet reported.

"Since July we've had 15 rescues to date," Adam Hoster, a Deputy Fire Chief with the Scottsdale Fire Department, told the outlet, noting that there were only six rescues during the same time period last year.

Hoster added that Scottsdale is now considering a trail closure pilot program, telling AzFamily.com: "It's something we may be looking into in the future."