When things go wrong on the trail
•Michael Sclawy-Adelman, a 17-year-old Scout in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Fla., went on a 20-mile hike last year in 100-degree weather in Big Cypress National Preserve. He was hoping to become an Eagle Scout. But by the midpoint of the hike, he and two other Scouts were too overheated to eat lunch, according to a ranger’s report. By the 15th mile, he was stumbling. He vomited and then lost consciousness. The two Scout leaders waited more than an hour and a half before calling for help on their cellphones, according to allegations in a suit filed by Miami attorney Mark A. Sylvester, and Michael died of heat exhaustion. The Boy Scouts have denied liability in the case. “The rangers told us they shouldn’t have been on this trail in that weather,” said Howard Adelman, Michael’s father. “They don’t need to take them on the most challenging hike they can find.”
•Finn Terry, an 11-year-old Scout from Portland, Ore., was helping clean a church on June 7, 2008, when one of the adult leaders quickly organized an outing on the Clackamas River, according to Larry Simmons, Finn’s grandfather. Scout officials declined to say whether proper tour permits and parental consent forms were filed, though Finn called his father and obtained verbal permission to go, Simmons said. Finn’s canoe overturned in violent rapids and he was pinned underwater by a rope, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s incident report. When rescue divers arrived at the scene, they could not enter the water to save the boy because it was judged too dangerous, the report said.
•In 2004, Kristoffer Jones of Long Beach was hiking with a Boy Scout troop in Utah’s Zion National Park on the Angel’s Landing Trail, a steep ascent along a ridge that drops about 1,000 feet on each side. Kristoffer was among a group of boys that reached the top several minutes before the adult leaders, according to allegations in a lawsuit. The 14-year-old plunged to his death after walking out on a ledge to carve his initials into a rock on a dare. Lynn Harris, a Provo attorney who represented the boy’s mother, said he had been a scoutmaster himself and had never had the courage to climb Angel’s Landing. “My first allegation in the suit was, who was the idiot who decided to take 40 Scouts to the top of Angel’s Landing? They are kids. They do stupid things,” he said. The terms of a settlement were sealed by the court.
•In August 2002, the professional staff at a Boy Scout camp in Pennsylvania sent 300 Scouts from a dining hall to their tents amid warnings of thunderstorms, a lawsuit alleged. Moments later, lightning killed New Jersey Scout Matthew Tresca, 16, while he sat outside his tent. Ronald Holle, a nationally known lightning safety expert, testified for the plaintiffs at a civil trial that the decision contradicted well-established lightning safety practices. The Scouts denied liability, saying the storm had appeared to be clearing. The case was settled for a confidential amount, said the family’s attorney, Peter Korn. Four other Scouts have died from lightning since 2004.