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Jamboree deaths classified accidental

 

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&cid=1128769160057

http://tinyurl.com/dd32k

 

Army probe finds no criminal culpability in four electrocutions

 

BY KIRAN KRISHNAMURTHY

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Saturday, January 7, 2006

 

FREDERICKSBURG -- An investigation into the electrocution of four Boy Scout leaders killed while erecting a tent at the 2005 National Scout Jamboree will classify the deaths as accidental, the Army said yesterday.

 

"We investigate for criminal culpability, and we found none," said Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Belvoir, which investigated the July 25 incident at Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County.

 

Witnesses said the Scout leaders from the Western Alaska Council were fatally injured when the center pole of a large tent they were helping contractors put up touched overhead electrical lines on the first day of the quadrennial event.

 

Grey would not say whether the Army's five-month probe determined why the tent was being erected beneath power lines. "I can't get into those details" until the final report is concluded, he said.

 

The Army will officially close its investigation in the next couple of weeks, Grey said. The preliminary finding announced yesterday will not change unless officials are made aware of "very compelling" evidence that indicates the deaths were not accidental, he added.

 

The accident claimed the lives of Ronald H. Bitzer, 58; Mike Lacroix, 42; and Michael J. Shibe, 49, all of Anchorage; and Scott Edward Powell, 57, who had moved from Anchorage to Perrysville, Ohio, in 2004. Shibe's twin sons and Lacroix's son, all 14, each witnessed the deaths of his father.

 

Reached by telephone in Anchorage, Lacroix's wife, Carol, said yesterday that she did not know what to make of the Army's finding without seeing a more complete report.

 

"It depends on what you categorize as an accident. A car accident is an accident," she said, acknowledging that fault is often assigned by courts following automobile accidents.

 

Bitzer's wife, Karen, referred questions to a family spokesman and attorney, Ken Schoolcraft, who said "unintentional" could be one interpretation of accidental.

 

Schoolcraft said he does not believe any of the Scout leader families has filed a civil lawsuit in the case. He did not rule out the possibility that the Bitzer family might pursue legal action.

 

"When you take men such as these out of families, there's an ongoing life, and it's very, very difficult. There are still children involved," said Schoolcraft, whose local Troop No. 129 included Bitzer and Shibe.

 

The four Scout victims were assisting two workers from Fishersville-based Tents & Events Inc., which has since closed.

 

Brett Hayes, who owned Tents & Events and still operates RentQuick.com, did not return phone calls yesterday. Michael E. Harman, a Richmond attorney representing the company, said he always viewed the deaths as "a tragic accident."

 

"I never, ever thought that there had been any criminal conduct by anyone," Harman said.

 

Gregg Shields, a Boy Scouts of America spokesman, said the organization will request a copy of the Army's report. "We look forward to gleaning any information we can," he said.

 

BSA officials are reviewing safety procedures in light of the accident, as well as the organization's response to a heat wave that felled more than 300 Scouts and others waiting for an appearance by President Bush at the 2005 jamboree.

 

Ken Perrotte, a Fort A.P. Hill spokesman, said the Army conducts an extensive review of safety and operations following each jamboree. "The goal is to capture lessons learned," he said.

 

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting a separate review of the tent accident. That investigation is scheduled to be completed this month.

 

The Army's criminal investigators classify deaths in one of four categories: homicide, which includes criminal negligent homicide; accidental; natural; or suicide.

 

"If there was [criminal] responsibility, it would be categorized as something different" than an accident, Grey said.

 

The Western Alaska Council organized two jamboree troops, 711 and 712, and hired a contractor to put up large tents in which the troops could dine, meet and escape the heat during the 10-day event, which draws nearly 40,000 Scouts, leaders and staffers. The council had also hired a contractor for the 2001 jamboree.

 

Other troops from far-flung places brought tents and other large equipment by other means. Hawaiians, for example, shipped tents by boat to the East Coast. Another Alaska contingent, with boys from Juneau and Fairbanks, brought their tents on an airplane.

 

Like many of the other jamboree troops, the Juneau/Fairbanks troops used picnic-style canopies no more than 8 or 10 feet tall to provide shelter and a place to eat. By comparison, the Western Alaskans' rented tents were to stand about three times as high.

 

Brian Anderson, a Scout leader from Utah who witnessed the accident, said the Tents & Events contractors seemed to erect the first of two large tents at the top of the Western Alaskan's sloping campsite without much problem. "The second one seemed to go a little slower than the first," he told The Times-Dispatch a few days after the accident.

 

Bill Haines, the Western Alaska Council's executive leader, said previously that the two contractors asked the Alaska leaders for help when the second canopy was ready to be raised. Haines did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

 

Anderson said he believes the rolling hill was a "compounding factor" that contributed to the difficulty the contractors had erecting the tent. He also said he did not see a spotter outside the tent, directing the men as they raised the metal pole from beneath the canopy. "You get under that tent working and you have blinders on," he said.

 

BSA officials and other Scouts have said Scouts are taught not to erect tents under power lines. Shields and Perrotte have said the Army and the Scouts consult on a master plan, but they have been unable to say who has ultimate authority or responsibility, or how detailed the plan is.

 

The next jamboree is scheduled to be held at A.P. Hill in 2010, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Scouting in the United States. The Justice Department, meanwhile, has appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago a ruling last summer that held the Pentagon could no longer spend government money to ready A.P. Hill for the jamboree.

 

The ruling from a federal judge in Chicago stems from an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed on behalf of a United Methodist minister. The lawsuit contends government funding for the event is unconstitutional because the Scouts discriminate on the basis of religion by requiring Scouts to pledge a "duty to God."

 

The event has been held at Fort A.P. Hill since 1981.

 

Contact staff writer Kiran Krishnamurthy at kkrishnamurthy@timesdispatch.com or (540) 371-4792.

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Scout deaths bring fines

 

http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2006/012006/01202006/161599

http://makeashorterlink.com/?E23C1408C

 

January 20, 2006 12:50 am

 

Federal agency says Virginia tent company committed 'serious' safety violations at National Scout Jamboree

 

By JEFF BRANSCOME

 

Federal safety officials investigating the electrocution of four Boy Scout leaders on the opening day of last summer's National Scout Jamboree have cited a now-defunct Virginia company for two "serious" violations.

 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Leni Uddyback-Fortson said yesterday that the agency has fined Tents and Events Inc. of Fishersville $2,800 for each violation.

 

The Scout leaders were killed July 25 at Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County when a 28-foot aluminum center pole for a large dining tent they were erecting struck a power line. The men had been helping two contractors from Tents and Events, which has since closed.

 

"Basically, the one violation was due to the fact that employees weren't trained and familiar with safety-related work practices," Uddyback-Fortson said.

 

The citation first states that the contractors didn't recognize "hazards associated with their respective work assignments in the erecting of tents, with conductive parts."

 

Next, it states that the two workers raised the pole with no regard to the "required minimum safe distance of 10 feet" from the three overhead power lines. Each line carried 7,200 volts of electricity, according to OSHA.

 

The victims were Michael J. Shibe, 49, Mike Lacroix, 42, and Ronald H. Bitzer, 58, all of Anchorage, Alaska, and Scott Edward Powell, 57, of Perrysville, Ohio. Shibe and Lacroix had sons participating in the jamboree.

 

OSHA can levy fines of up to $7,000 for each serious violation, said Charles T. Pope, area director in the agency's Norfolk office. The fine for Tents and Events was lower because of the company's size and the fact that it had no history of violations, he said.

 

"We reduce the penalty a lot for a small employer," Pope said.

 

RentQuick.com of Waynesboro, the parent company of Tents and Events, has until Feb. 8 to appeal the fines. The company has scheduled an "informal conference" Tuesday with OSHA representatives, Pope said.

 

Company officials can present any evidence they believe would support adjusting the citations, he said.

 

"We can settle the case there," Pope said. "If we can't agree, then they would issue a notice of contest" to the U.S. Department of Labor office in Norfolk.

 

RentQuick.com owner Brett Hayes referred questions to his lawyer, Mike Harman of Richmond. "I have a business to run," Hayes said.

 

Harman said the company received the citation Wednesday and "cooperated fully with the OSHA investigation."

 

A separate Army investigation into the electrocutions will deem the deaths accidental, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command said Jan. 6.

 

At that time, spokesman Chris Grey said the investigation would be officially closed in about two weeks. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

 

"As you know, there was no finding of any intentional misconduct," Harman said. "It continues to be what it was all along, and that's a very tragic accident."

 

Harman said the company is considering its options as it reviews the citation. "No decision has been made" other than to attend the informal meeting, he said.

 

If the company appeals the fines, an administrative law judge will hear the case. The judge's ruling could be appealed to a three-member commission, then to federal court.

 

A secretary for Bill Haines, chief executive officer of the Western Alaska Boy Scout Council in Anchorage, referred questions yesterday to the Boy Scouts of America's' national office in Irving, Texas.

 

Boy Scouts of America spokesman Gregg Shields said he had no reaction to OSHA's action, but emphasized his organization's commitment to safety.

 

"We're going to look at everything we can to make the next jamboree and every event we host as safe as possible," he said.

 

Shields said the Boy Scouts do not provide a list of recommended vendors or contractors to troops participating in the jamboree.

 

Kenneth G. Schoolcraft, an Anchorage attorney and spokesman for the family of Ronald Bitzer, said he does not believe any of the deceased Scout leaders' families have filed civil lawsuits in their deaths. The families of Shibe and Lacroix could not be reached for comment.

 

"She's just got other things that have a higher priority for her," Schoolcraft said of Bitzer's widow, Carol. "They spend so much time just dealing with the fact that a central part of their family is now gone."

 

As for the investigations, the Army and OSHA didn't issue views on "the broad spectrum of what occurred," he said. The Army focused on criminal culpability, Schoolcraft explained, while OSHA looked for safety violations by the contractor.

 

He said the agencies didn't investigate "whether other entities may have done something or not done something that could have contributed to the accident."

 

To reach JEFF BRANSCOME:540/374-5402

Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com

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Tent firm cited in 4 jamboree deaths

 

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&cid=1128769427686'>http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&cid=1128769427686

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OSHA says workers not adequately trained in safe electrical-work practices

 

BY KIRAN KRISHNAMURTHY

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Friday, January 20, 2006

 

FREDERICKSBURG -- A federal agency has issued two "serious" workplace-safety citations against a tent company whose workers were erecting a large canopy when four Boy Scout leaders were killed at the 2005 Boy Scout Jamboree.

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which also proposed $5,600 in fines, stated that Tents & Events employees were not adequately trained in safe electrical-work practices, including being able to recognize overhead electrical hazards while putting up large tents.

 

Witnesses said the Scout leaders from Alaska were fatally injured July 25 when the center pole of a large tent they were helping contractors put up touched overhead electrical lines on the first day of the quadrennial event at Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County.

 

OSHA, which announced its findings yesterday, also cited the company because the workers were too close to three overhead power lines, each of which car- ried 7,200 volts.

 

"I believe that the citations speak for themselves," Charles T. Pope, OSHA's director in Virginia, said when asked if the agency placed blame on the company.

 

Pope said he did not know whether the agency determined why the large tent was being erected near the power lines.

 

Anchorage attorney Ken Schoolcraft, a spokesman for the family of deceased Scout leader Ronald H. Bitzer, said that filing a lawsuit in connection with the leaders' deaths remains a possibility.

 

Officials with the Fishersville-based tent company, which has since closed, can appeal the citations, which were issued Tuesday.

 

Brett Hayes, who owned Tents & Events and still operates RentQuick.com, declined to comment yesterday and referred questions to his attorney, Michael Harman.

 

Harman would not comment on OSHA's specific conclusions but said, "There was no finding, of course, of any intentional wrongdoing."

 

 

Harman said the company had cooperated fully with OSHA's investigation and was weighing its options, including whether to appeal the findings or pay the fines.

 

Pope said the "serious" classification is assigned after evaluating whether death or serious injury is likely to occur and whether an employer knew with "reasonable diligence" that a violation existed. OSHA's fine for a "serious" violation is a maximum $7,000, or up to $70,000 if the violation is willful.

 

"This wasn't repeated, it wasn't willful," Pope said.

 

The accident claimed the lives of Bitzer, 58; Mike Lacroix, 42; and Michael J. Shibe, 49, all of Anchorage; and Scott Edward Powell, 57, who had moved from Anchorage to Perrysville, Ohio, in 2004. Shibe's twin sons and Lacroix's son, all 14, each witnessed the death of his father.

 

Earlier this month, Army officials said their separate criminal investigation into the electrocution found no evidence of criminal culpability and that the Army would classify the deaths as accidental.

 

The Western Alaska Council organized two jamboree troops, 711 and 712, and hired a contractor to put up large tents in which the troops could eat, meet and escape the heat during the 10-day event, which draws nearly 40,000 Scouts, leaders and staffers.

 

While other troops from far-flung places, including other parts of Alaska, used picnic-style canopies no more than 8 or 10 feet tall, OSHA reported the center tent pole of the Western Alaskans' canopies measured 28 feet, 8 inches.

 

Bill Haines, the Western Alaska Council's executive leader, said previously that the two contractors asked the Alaska leaders for help when the second canopy was ready to be raised. Haines did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

 

Brian Anderson, a Scout leader from Utah who witnessed the accident, told The Times-Dispatch a few days after the deaths that had not seen a spotter outside the tent, directing the men as they raised the metal pole from beneath the canopy on the sloping campsite.

 

Boy Scout of America officials and other Scouts have said Scouts are taught not to erect tents under power lines. The Army and the BSA consult on a master plan, but spokesmen for the Army and the organization have been unable to say who has ultimate authority or responsibility, or how detailed the plan is.

 

The next jamboree is scheduled to be held at A.P. Hill in 2010, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. The Justice Department, meanwhile, has appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago a ruling last summer that held the Pentagon could no longer spend government money to ready A.P. Hill for the jamboree.

 

The ruling from a federal judge in Chicago stems from an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed on behalf of a United Methodist minister. The lawsuit contends government funding for the event is unconstitutional because the Scouts discriminate on the basis of religion by requiring Scouts to pledge a "duty to God."

 

The event has been held at A.P. Hill since 1981.

 

Contact staff writer Kiran Krishnamurthy at kkrishnamurthy@timesdispatch.com or (540) 371-4792.

This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&cid=1128769427686

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Tent company cited in Jamboree deaths

 

http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/7375117p-7287133c.html

 

ELECTROCUTION: OSHA fines company $5,600, says workers not properly trained.

 

By LISA DEMER

Anchorage Daily News

 

Published: January 20, 2006

Last Modified: January 20, 2006 at 07:41 AM

 

Workers responsible for putting up the tent involved in the electrocutions of four Boy Scout leaders last summer were not properly trained or qualified for the job, a federal investigation concluded.

 

Three of the Scout leaders killed at the big National Scout Jamboree were Alaskans and the fourth had recently left the state.

 

The tent company, Tents and Events Inc. of Fishersville, Va., faces fines totaling $5,600 for two serious violations of safety standards, according to findings released Thursday by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company has since gone out of business.

 

Tents and Events sent two workers to the Jamboree on July 25 to erect a huge white tent -- OSHA said it was 40 feet by 40 feet -- rented by Alaska troops for group gatherings.

 

After some Scouts struggled to get the tent up, the four leaders took over. They were electrocuted when the center pole touched an overhead power line.

 

Killed were Michael Shibe, 49, a foreman at Alaska Communications Systems; Michael LaCroix, 42, general manager of VendAlaska; Ronald Bitzer, 58, a retired lawyer and administrative judge; and Scott Powell, 57, who served as resident ranger at Camp Gorsuch before he retired and left Alaska for a family cabin in Ohio last year. Shibe was at the Jamboree with his twin sons; LaCroix also was there with a son.

 

A fifth Scout leader was injured, as were both tent company workers. One suffered burns and was hospitalized.

 

Dozens of people were interviewed during the months-long investigation, which also included visits to the Jamboree site at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, said Tom Pope, area director of OSHA in Norfolk, Va.

 

"Employees were not adequately trained or familiar with the requirements of electrical safety work practices, nor were they adequately trained or familiar with the recognition of hazards associated with their respective work assignments in the erecting of tents, with conductive parts," the citation said.

 

OSHA also faulted the company because the workers brought the aluminum center pole too close to "unguarded, energized overhead lines," according to the citation. Given their lack of qualification to work near live lines, the pole -- 28 feet, 8 inches tall -- should have been kept at least 10 feet away, OSHA said.

 

The tent company had no history of safety problems with OSHA.

 

The violations were classified as "serious" rather than "willful." The latter is used when a company knows about a safety hazard and fails to address it, Pope said. Most violations are termed serious, he said.

 

Tents and Events cooperated fully with OSHA during the investigation, said Mike Harman, a Richmond, Va., attorney who represents the business.

 

"There were no findings of any intentional misconduct," Harman said.

 

The company's representatives have asked for an informal conference with OSHA. They also can ask for a hearing if they want to formally contest the findings, said Pope, the OSHA official.

 

Even though the tent business is closed, the former owner still has responsibility for what happened, he said.

 

"If they go back into business, we will talk to them about things they need to do, training they need to do," Pope said.

 

The deaths occurred on the opening day of Jamboree. The event drew an estimated 43,000 Scouts, volunteers and staff members to the Fort A.P. Hill Army base in Caroline County, Va.

 

The U.S. Army concluded that the electrocutions were an accident.

 

The Boy Scouts of America are still evaluating their own safety rules and likely will make changes before the next National Scout Jamboree, set for 2010 at Fort A.P. Hill, said national Scout spokesman Gregg Shields.

 

Neither Harman nor Shields was aware of any lawsuits filed over the tent incident.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

 

Daily News reporter Lisa Demer can be reached at ldemer@adn.com and 257-4390.

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CDC report critical of Scouts at star-crossed Scout Jamboree

 

http://www.dailypress.com/news/local/virginia/dp-sou--jamboree-heat0127jan27,0,1601827.story

http://tinyurl.com/b7avw

 

By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM

Associated Press Writer

January 27, 2006

 

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Boy Scouts of America failed to provide sufficient water and shade to campers at its Jamboree last summer, resulting in thousands of heat-related illnesses from soaring temperatures, a federal report concluded Friday.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's analysis of state health department data focused on heat problems and did not address the event's five deaths--four adults from an Alaskan troop electrocuted while pitching a tent, and a volunteer from North Carolina who died from a heart attack.

 

During the 10-day event that drew 43,000 particpants to Fort A.P. Hill, 14,857 campers, visitors and staff suffered illnesses and injuries--about a quarter of them heat-related, the CDC said.

 

On July 27 alone, 500 or more campers collapsed with heat-related illnesses as they waited in vain for President Bush to arrive. Temperatures were in the 90s and the heat index--the way it feels when humidity is factored in--soared to 121 degrees.

 

The attendees standing in the arena were exposed to direct afternoon sunlight "without adequate water or shade structures," the CDC said in the report.

 

The Scouts had to be in place inside the arena at least two hours before the event, and some had to walk miles to get to the staging area. Bush's visit was eventually postponed when weather forecasters predicted strong lightning storms.

 

Gregg Shields, a spokesman for the Irving, Texas-based Boy Scouts, said Friday that attendees were constantly reminded to take precautions and were provided with water, shade and ice.

 

"That's something we come to expect in July in Virginia," Shields said. "It was tragic that anyone suffered from heat-related illnesses, but our medical operation was ready and able to respond."

 

Earlier this month, Army officials said a military investigation into the electrocutions classified the deaths as accidental. The Army's Criminal Investigation Command found no evidence of criminal culpability.

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Scouts to heed critical report

 

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1137833704067

http://tinyurl.com/c7hov

 

Leaders will review policies after failures cited during heat illnesses at jamboree

BY A.J. HOSTETLER

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Saturday, January 28, 2006

 

The Boys Scouts plan to review policies in light of a federal health report concluding that the organization failed to provide adequate water and shade during its national jamboree last summer.

 

Nearly 3,500 of the 43,000 participants fell sick from the sweltering temperatures during the 10-day event, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its report. On July 27 alone, when the heat index rose to 121 degrees, about 500 campers fell ill with heat exhaustion or stroke.

 

"It's tragic, tragically unfortunate that anyone suffered from heat-related illness that evening. But our medical operations were ready and able and responded," Scouts spokesman Gregg Shields said yesterday.

 

The Scouts had initially said 300 campers were sickened on July 27 and later revised it to 800, according to Shields.

 

The day's opening festivities were to feature a visit from President Bush, who late in the day canceled his appearance when bad weather was forecast. Federal and state health officials on hand urged specific measures to prevent heat-related illness, but said they were not implemented until the president's visit was rescheduled.

 

The attendees, who had marched some of them 5 miles -- to an outdoor arena were exposed to direct afternoon sunlight "without adequate water or shade structures," the CDC said.

 

The federal agency's report was the result of an invitation from the Boy Scouts to the CDC and state health officials to track illness and injury, such as tick bites, rashes and heat-related ailments, among participants at the jamboree.

 

Shields said he did not know why the CDC's recommendations were not followed.

 

"We're now in the process of studying what took place in order to make our next jamboree in 2010 as safe as possible," he said.

 

Although the jamboree is a quadrennial event, it next will be held in 2010 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. Its future at Fort A.P. Hill is uncertain as the Justice Department is appealing a federal court ruling that held the Pentagon could no longer spend government money for the jamboree.

 

Shields said the Scouts "made extensive provisions for the heat" typical of Virginia summers and handed out information reminding the campers gathered in Caroline County to drink lots of water. He said trucks carrying water lined the roads along which Scouts hiked to the arena, but did not know how many trucks were involved or how much water they carried.

 

He said the Scouts were going to review "after action" reports the organization requested of its volunteers and combine the information with the CDC report and "see how we can improve on procedures."

 

One of the jamboree medical volunteers, Mack Ruffin, a physician with the University of Michigan, said several colleagues told him their reports were not acknowledged by the Scouts. Ruffin said that as far as the volunteers knew, there had been no discussion of the health issues since the event ended.

 

Ruffin described his experience as the medical director of a first-aid unit immediately outside the arena as horrendous. He said the Scouts' 26 medical units were overwhelmed with collapsing campers, many of them unconscious or vomiting. Ambulances and medevac helicopters were called in to take campers to local hospitals. The medical directors earlier in the day had voted unanimously to advise the Scouts to cancel the late-afternoon event, he said.

 

Shields said he could not comment on the medical personnel's description of the event as overwhelming. "I wasn't there," he said. However, he was on hand that night for a news conference on the day's toll.

 

Phil Malone, a Scoutmaster from Portsmouth, Ohio, and emergency management training coordinator, said he was confident the Scouts would learn from the event and suggested the organization could improve by involving more volunteers with an emergency background.

 

"Who expected a heat index of 100?" he said, adding, "There's a lot of other things that could be done in the future, and I'm sure they're going to rewrite the book.

 

"They were ready, but they weren't ready for that level [of heat]. What community is? New York wasn't ready for 9/11."

 

Contact staff writer A.J. Hostetler at ahostetler@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6355.

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"Who expected a heat index of 100?" he said, adding, "There's a lot of other things that could be done in the future, and I'm sure they're going to rewrite the book. "They were ready, but they weren't ready for that level [of heat]. What community is? New York wasn't ready for 9/11."

 

As a lifelong resident of Eastern Virginia, just a few observations:

 

1. We expected it. Heat indices of 100 or above happen EVERY summer in July and August. Typical summertime highs above 90 with dewpoints above 70 are the norm. Anyone in Virginia who doesn't know this must live in a cave.

 

2. Our council camp, located an hour south of Richmond, has been suffering in attendance in the past few years, and the most common complaint is heat. It's really no hotter than when I first attended the camp in 1966, or when the settlers came in 1607. The only variable is the physical condition and tolerance of those attending.

 

3. Heat illness can be minimized by proper hydration, rest, shade, nutrition (electrolytes), and acclimatization. Acclimitization means "training" your body to cope with the heat, much like you would "train" for a Philmont trek or high altitude hiking. Those who work/play in the heat every day are usually not affected by it.

 

4. Could it be that we have become "soft"? Taking someone from an air conditioned office, or an air conditioned chair in front of a Playstation, and then transporting them the next day to an outdoor sauna-like environment with a much higher level of physical exertion is a recipe for heat illness. Units from a milder climate planning to travel to Virginia, should plan and train for it, just like you would doing "Philmont work-ups". I wouldn't dream of taking my Virginia troop to Alaska for a winter campout without proper training and preparation...that would be dangerous and irresponsible.

 

5. This is not to minimize the responsibility of the Jambo staff...who should have recognized and planned for the above factors...we call it "Operational Risk Management" in the military. Predict and plan. Having unacclimatized people hike 5 miles and then sit in an open field under a hot sun for hours is just stupid.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch, VA

August 15, 2006

Jamboree documents released; Army: Witnesses did not recall seeing signs about power lines before four Scout leaders died

 

By Kiran Krishnamurthy

FREDERICKSBURG - Three witnesses to the electrocution of four National Scout Jamboree leaders did not recall any signs warning of high-voltage power lines in the vicinity, according to investigative documents.

 

However, a photograph included in the documents does show the presence of a sign. And one Boy Scout from the Western Alaska troop stated he noticed the overhead electrical lines before a metal tent pole touched them on July 25, 2005, the first day of the quadrennial event at the U.S. Army's Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County.

 

"We did not think about them," the youth said in a sworn statement.

The Army released the documents this month in response to The Times-Dispatch's continued federal Freedom of Information Act request for materials from the military's criminal investigation into the accident. The Army previously found no criminal wrongdoing arising from the accident.

 

The supporting documents, which include accounts from witnesses and emergency personnel, also detail the severity of the injuries sustained by the Western Alaska leaders. Witnesses say the four adult leaders were electrocuted when the center pole of a large canopy they were helping a contractor erect touched overhead power lines.

 

Boy Scouts of America officials say the organization provides individual troop leaders with a diagram suggesting how tents can be placed but that individual troop leaders decide where to put tents within their campsites.

 

Kenneth Schoolcraft, a lawyer for the family of one of the dead leaders, said last month that he does not know whether any lawsuits will be filed in the accident.

 

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Tents & Events for two "serious" workplace-safety violations; the company paid $3,000 in fines. OSHA officials also said they would have cited the Boy Scouts of America for a violation if any of the Alaska Scout leaders had been employed by the organization. OSHA said it found "significant" safety concerns with the Boy Scouts of America.

 

The National Scout Jamboree has been held at Fort A.P. Hill since 1981, though its future at the Army base is the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination by the group and its use of federal property.

 

 

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