This kind of stupidity long predates GPS. An alarmingly high number of people (usually tourists from Europe and denizens of large American cities) haven't a clue about porper conduct off paved highways. (Yes, yes, I know, they don't have a clue how to conduct themselves *on* paved highways, but that's a different form of cluelessness.)
And when I write "conduct" I don't mean "don't pick the flowers". I mean "so you come back alive and in one piece." Not picking the flowers is sometimes part of this process, admittedly.
They don't understand that Beautiful Scenery isn't a kind of Disneyland and you must be cautious in the Great Outdoors.
Consider the Belgian tourists: did they not take the precaution of carrying plentiful water before heading off into the dusty boonies? Did the possibility of a break down not cross their dim little Belgian Minds ™? Did the word "desert" mean nothing to them?
And that California convoy: did they not carry good maps with them? DeLorme Mapping has sold state-by-state topographic atlases since the early 1990s; anyone hopping around in the boonies is a fool not to take the relevant one(s) along. Everyone knows that GPS systems have a rather theoretical approach to navigation under the best of circumstances and out in the wilderness, all bets are off.
But it's not just in the US of A these things happen. We had a case here on Vancouver Island where a young couple went exploring some isolated logging roads in winter in a decrepit Volkswagen van, didn't tell anyone where they were going, didn't have maps, didn't know where they were, got stuck in the snow when they got to the requisite altitude, and finally ran out of gas because their gas gauge was broken and they hadn't filled the tank before setting out. They were only by luck rescued by a logger in a 4-wheel drive vehicle before they died of exposure.
Sheer stupidity on the part of city slickers, you might say.
Paris because she's a city slicker, though I bet she has the smarts not to trifle with the Great Outdoors.