Lightning Kills Boy Scout, Injures 3 Others on Utah Mountain

From Associated Press

A bolt of lightning killed a 15-year-old Boy Scout and injured three others while they slept in a log shelter during a violent storm.

“There was a big flash and a big boom,” said Dr. Stephen Morris, a trauma surgeon at the University of Utah’s burn unit who was with the troop. “Somebody came running down the trails saying, ‘Help! We need help!’ ”

For the record:

12:00 AM, Aug. 11, 2005 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday August 11, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 News Desk 2 inches; 96 words Type of Material: Correction
Lightning death -- An article in Section A on Aug. 4 about the lightning death of a Boy Scout in Utah said the Mormon Church advanced Scouts more quickly so they could prepare for a proselytizing mission. In fact, Boy Scouts in troops sponsored by the church in Utah tend to advance more quickly because the church puts a priority on Scouting as a youth activity, said spokesmen for the church and the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Scout advancement is not so they can prepare for a church mission.

Morris said he tried in vain for 90 minutes to revive the boy, who had no heartbeat and wasn’t breathing after the strike Tuesday night.

The family of the victim, Paul Ostler, released a statement thanking leaders and doctors at the Scout camp “who tried so valiantly to save Paul’s life.”


“I just sat on the bed and cried. I couldn’t go to sleep. I was just sitting there thinking ‘this poor guy,’ ” Morris told Salt Lake television station KUTV.

Two of the injured boys were flown to the University of Utah burn unit. One 13-year-old boy was in good condition, and the family of another boy asked that no information be released by the hospital. The third boy, also 13, was released Wednesday after being treated for minor burns, said his father, Doug Edwards.

The accident marked the second deadly lightning strike to hit a Boy Scout camp in the last week. On July 28, an assistant Scoutmaster and a 13-year-old Scout were killed by a lightning strike in California’s Sequoia National Park.

Four Scout leaders at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia were electrocuted July 25 in front of several Scouts after they lost control of a metal pole at the center of a large dining tent, sending it toppling into nearby power lines.


During the Utah strike, all four boys were bedding down in a corner of the cabin during the storm, said Edwards, a troop leader.

“From what we can tell, it appears the lightning hit a tree next to us, came down and came out of the tree and just into some nails that were driven into the cabin to hold the logs together,” Edwards said.

Two other boys and another Scout leader in the log structure were not injured, Edwards said. All six boys belonged to the same troop.

Camp Steiner in the Uinta Mountains, about 60 miles east of Salt Lake City, is the highest Boy Scout camp in the country at 10,400 feet. It is a magnet for thunderstorms on summer afternoons.


The victim’s parents, Brent and Teresa Ostler of Salt Lake City, said Paul was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting, which is usually attained at an older age. In Utah, the Mormon Church advances Scouts more quickly so they can prepare for a proselytizing mission.