Monday, July 30, 2007
Lightning Strikes Boys Scouts at Philmont; None Seriously Hurt
CIMARRON Nine Boy Scouts and two adults were struck by lightning as they were hiking on a 12,441-foot mountain at the Philmont Scout Ranch in northeastern New Mexico, but none were seriously injured.
The group was struck Sunday afternoon, and all were treated and returned to the ranch or were en route back by Monday morning, said John Van Dreese, associate director of programs for Philmont.
The 11 were hiking toward the tree line after summiting Baldy Mountain when lightning struck, he said.
"I guess it wasn't direct because in most cases, that would probably be a fatal situation," said Marcal Young, Scout executive director of the Caddo Area Council, which includes eight Arkansas and two Texas counties.
"They have some tingling and everything," he said.
Van Dreese said six of the 11 were from the Texarkana area of Arkansas and Texas, four were from Glenview, Ill., and one was from Montoursville, Pa.
Most were able to walk to a base camp at an elevation of 10,000 on Baldy Mountain, where Philmont vehicles and at least one ambulance took them to area health facilities, Philmont officials said.
One was airlifted to Santa Fe for treatment.
"We brought him down in a litter," Van Dreese said. "A helicopter landed at a nearby Forest Service area that literally is on the edge of Philmont property."
Lightning striking people at Philmont is uncommon, he said.
But "we consider it enough of a risk factor so that there's actually lightning training that we do as part of our training for each crew before they go out," Van Dreese said.
Philmont includes about 214 square miles of mostly mountainous backcountry around the village of Cimarron.
A Scout typically signs up for a 12-day tour at Philmont, and by summer's end, about 22,000 come through. An average of 350 Scouts arrive daily through the summer.
Each Scout chooses three activities from a list of different destinations, such as fishing, archery, riding, hiking, mountain biking, conservation, timber, black powder target shooting, shotgun shooting and western lore, among about 20 others.
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