BSA camp, electrocution: description
Jack Wright (jwright@CHATTANOOGA.NET)
Tue, 7 Jul 1998 18:21:05 -0400
This fatality occurred the 3rd or 4th week of June. Those of you with
Camp responsibilities or connections may want to ask yourselves if it
could happen at your camp, or use it as the subject of a safety meeting
with Camp staff. I am a safety engineer, so it was more than passing
interest to me:
Here are the facts, as told to me by the Camp Director:
1. A young scout is at camp, and with proper supervision, fires a hobby
model rocket high in the air, in open fields. The rocket is the type
that comes back down slowly by parachute, so it can be re-used.
2. This time the rocket drifts over and becomes hung over some power
lines, the rocket on one side, the parachute balancing it on the other
side, and the parachute cord is apparently "non-conductive". These are
3-phase distribution lines, serving and not far from the main Dining
Hall, 13.2 KV, phase to ground.
3. Camp Staff is alerted. EVERYONE is found and told to stay away, do
not go near, we will call the power company, they are the only ones who
will get this rocket down, in the proper way.
4. It's not a high priority with the power company, out in a rural
area. One week goes by.
5. One week later, the young scout is brought back out to camp by his
father, the Troop's Scoutmaster. They log in as visitors, they are
doing model rocket program work and need some open fields.
6. The father parks his mini-van under the power lines, and makes a
reaching pole from 2 tent poles and a top hook from a grass scythe, put
together with tape.
7. The 40 yr. old SM father climbs atop the van to retrieve the rocket.
He may have thought he would be protected by vehicle rubber tires,
and/or by rubber shoes, we'll never know.
8. The young scout son is the only one to witness the tragedy. He was
standing on the ground away from the van. The dad is propelled off the
van to the far side from the nearby Dining Hall.
9. The son runs in to the Dining Hall for help. The Camp staff come out
at the boy's request, even though they don't see a problem. They do CPR
all the way to the hospital, which is only a few minutes away. The
cardiologist later tells the Camp Director that his staff did a heroic
job of CPR and rescue, but there was no way of revival.
Could this happen at your camp? How many general public dads or SMs
would do that? I'd bet a lot of people would. Rubber shoes and tires
are conductive to high voltage. Get a local electrician or safety
engineer to accompany you to your camp staff safety meeting you help
I'd rather not give the name of the camp, I don't think that's
important. It's not our Council camp, but my own 14-yr-old SPL son and
his Troop are at camp there this week. It's a very beautiful camp.
I'll be having an electrical safety meeting soon with our Ranger and
staff at our Camp Skymont.
Jack Wright, CSP
Cherokee Area Council
Council Whitewater Committee Member
Troop 30 Committee Member
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City