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Lightning Kills Boy Scout at Utah Camp


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Lightning Kills Boy Scout at Utah Camp


Associated Press Writer

August 3, 2005, 7:55 PM EDT

SALT LAKE CITY -- 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.'"

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 the other 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. Last Thursday, 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 belong to the same Salt Lake troop.

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

The victim's parents, Brent and Teresa Ostler of Salt Lake City, said Paul was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting, usually attained at an older age of 17 or 18. But in Utah, the Mormon Church advances its scouts more quickly so they can prepare for a proselytizing mission.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.


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