Leaders Praise Scouts for Rescue Efforts

8:29 AM, Jul 16, 2012   |    comments
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Image: WSPA

Greenville, SC (written by Clark Brooks/GreenvilleOnline) -- In addition to the pain they felt Sunday for nine Boy Scouts and a young staff member who were injured when their van crashed off Callahan Mountain Road near Traveler's Rest, scout leaders on Sunday felt a measure of pride.

The wreck happened around 9:30 p.m. on Friday as the boys were returning to their cabin a couple of miles from Camp Old Indian, where they had celebrated around a bonfire on the final night of a one-week summer camp.

With gasoline spilling and no time to waste, injured boys began helping those more seriously hurt, scout leaders told GreenvilleOnline.com. Stuck in an area without cell phone reception, three or four boys began hiking through the darkness, back to Camp Old Indian, to notify staff members and to call 911.

"I would call them heroic in their efforts to help their fellow scouts," said Mike Butler, scout executive for the Blue Ridge Council in Greenville County. "They did what they should do as scouts."

Four of the injured boys are from the Blue Ridge Council, three are from the Columbia area, and two are from Florida, he said.

The two from Troop 225 in Windermere, Fla., were among the injured boys who helped others, their leader said.

"Before emergency services got to the site, they were crawling around, which was all they could do and they probably shouldn't have even been doing that. In spite of their injuries, yes, they were trying to help other people," said Barry Hughes, scoutmaster for Troop 225.

The Ford van ran off Callahan Mountain Road and overturned down an embankment, said Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins of the state Highway Patrol. All 10 people in the van - nine scouts and a 19-year-old driver - were taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital, Collins said. The accident is under investigation, he said.

About 40 scouts from Troop 225 came to Greenville for a week of camping with scouts from Greenville County and other areas, a week that ended Saturday, Hughes said. The two Florida boys were still in the hospital Sunday with injuries Hughes said were serious but not life-threatening.

"Their injuries are extensive," he said. "I won't characterize it any other way."

Two other scouts remained in the hospital Sunday, including one from Columbia who was sent to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., Butler said, and one boy from the Blue Ridge Council who was in Greenville Memorial. The van did not catch fire; the boy in the burn center suffered chemical burns caused by gasoline, Butler said.

Hughes said the actions of his injured Florida boys were commendable, but about what he'd expect from seasoned Boy Scouts.

"We in Boy Scouts like to think that we're observing our mission statement closely by developing the character of these young men," he said. "These two, they're exceptional individuals, but I don't think they're exceptional scouts. Most of our scouts, especially after they have been in the program for a few years like these young men, they all get it."

Butler, his voice tinged with pain and weariness from going about 40 hours without sleep, praised Chief Bryan Riebe of the Glassy Mountain Fire Department and his firefighters who responded to the crash.

Butler also said the 50 or so staff members - including one medical officer and many trained in first-aid - acted with precision.

"So all of that training and preparation that we put into place went into action ... They came down in full force," he said.

The main concern now is the four hospitalized boys, but the various Boy Scout councils are working to help all of the boys and their families, Butler said.

"There will be a healing process for everybody," he said.

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