Scout Troop Hit by Lightning,
July 29, 2005
FRESNO, Calif. - Lightning struck a group of Boy Scouts taking shelter
from a summer storm in Sequoia National Park, killing the troop
leader and a 13-year-old scout, according to a ranger and the boy's
Troop leader, Steve McCullough, 29,
was pronounced dead Thursday night, according to the Tulare County
Boyscout, Ryan Collins, 13, died Friday
morning, according to his parents, Sue and Peter Collins. "We
just lost our son," said Sue Collins after rushing to the hospital
in Fresno to be with her critically injured son.
The deaths come just days after four
men were electrocuted while putting up a tent at the National Scout
Jamboree in Virginia.
The lightning strike happened at 4
p.m. along John Muir Trail near Sandy Meadow, said park ranger,
Alexandra Picavet. The group was located at an altitude of 10,700
feet, about four miles west of Mount Whitney.
The Boy Scout group from St. Helena,
was in a meadow surrounded by trees when the lightning storm became
heavy. They split into two groups and set up two tarps more than
50 feet apart to seek protection from the storm, Picavet said. Then,
a lightning strike made a direct hit on one of the tarps.
The group of seven juveniles and five
adults was on the seventh day of a nine-day camping trip. There
had been lightning storms on and off most of the day, Picavet said.
After the lightning bolt hit the tarp,
Two of the scouts made a 25-minute run to the nearest ranger station
and hurried back with the on-duty ranger, Picavet said.
When they returned, people were performing
cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the injured. The Park Service's
emergency personnel were called, and it took five helicopters to
recover and evacuate the group.
Two of the injured remained hospitalized
in Fresno, and others were being treated in Visalia after being
evacuated from the park. Some of the injuries were described as
The two lightning strike victims were
the seventh and eighth fatalities in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks this year. A spokesman says its been several years since someone
has been killed by lightning in the park.
Park Rangers caution that afternoon
storms are common in the High Sierra during the mid-summer, and
they suggest if you are caught in one to come down from peaks, bluffs
or cliffs, and to also stay away from granite.