Skip to comments.Giving up hope on Lost Boy Scout
Posted on 06/30/2005 2:00:23 PM PDT by digitalman
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - He'd been so excited about the trip to Yellowstone National Park - camping under the stars, hiking in the mountains, hanging out with his buddies and fellow Boy Scouts.
What was supposed to have been a fun trip for 13-year-old Luke Sanburg has turned into a tragic ordeal for his family. Luke was feared drowned Monday, three days after falling into the brisk, fast-moving Yellowstone River and being swept toward a rapid. Yellowstone National Park officials said the focus of the scaled-back search effort had shifted from rescue to body recovery. "I think the family has come to that realization right now," incident commander Tim Reid said. A family spokeswoman tearfully spoke of Luke on Monday in the past tense, describing him as an outdoor enthusiast, a devoted brother, and a smart boy with sharp sense of humor. "He was fun to be around, he was as kind a young man and considerate as you'd ever want to meet," said JeNae Lay, an aunt. Early Friday evening, Luke and other boys from Troop 208 from Helena were pushing logs into the river when a log hit him and pushed him off into the 50-degree water, park officials said. Luke, who could swim, was only wearing shorts, tennis shoes and a cap. Shoes believed to be his were found over the weekend. Reid called the river conditions "unswimmable." Seven Scouts, including Luke, and three adults were on the trip. One of the boys and a group leader hiked six or so miles from the backcountry campsite in northern Yellowstone where the group was staying to call for help. Park officials said the emergency call was received about 9 p.m. Friday, about 3? hours after Luke was last seen. Hundreds of volunteers joined park officials in the search over the weekend, scouring a 14-mile stretch of the river. Kayakers were used as well, though Reid said the high water hampered their efforts. As water levels recede, he expects them to be used again, perhaps late this week. On Monday, some volunteers were stationed at bridges, such as one in Gardiner, a tiny park gateway town, watching the churning water below for any possible signs of the missing boy. The park also sent out two search teams, one for each side of the river, and a helicopter searched from the air. Park spokeswoman Cheryl Matthews said air and ground searches would continue, with decisions made on a day-to-day basis. As the holiday weekend approached, park officials were also contacting local outfitters and guides to ask them to report anything they might find related to the teen, she said. Lay said the family has been overwhelmed by the response to Luke's disappearance. Members of the family have been anchored at the local Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints and are drawing comfort from their faith, she said. Luke's parents have both participated in searching for their son, she said. "Luke was young man of incredible faith and spiritual maturity who loved and obeyed God as he'd been taught, and he'd been taught that by good parents," she said. Lay said the family has experienced a wide range of emotions during the past several days and is now trying to deal with the realization that Luke may be dead. "They've said frankly, sometimes drowning victims are never found," she said. "We'll deal with that one day at a time."
Poor kid.... God Rest His Soul
yes, it is unhappy event this is at least the second Mormon scout involved in a major accident/problem this year. The scout in Idaho, I an unsure if he was LDS.
hope the rules get tigher, and quickly
So sad. Prayers for the family. And let this serve as a reminder to always wear floatation devices around water. I was just reading about the Guadelupe River here in Texas and that is the number one point the article made. Even a good swimmer can get caught in an undertow.
I am so sorry for this family's loss but was there no supervision?
When I was a kid, we were backpacking 15 miles from no-where.. we got ourselves into a tight spot where we either had to backtrack for a quarter mile, or shimmy along the face of a cliff over a river.
Being kids, we chose to shimmy the cliff.
About halfway along the 3" crack that extended about 12 feet laterally along the wall, I leaned a bit too far back (remember, there is a pack on my back) and went straight down into the river.
Fortunately, my backpack and sleeping bag acted as a life-preserver and kept me floating as I back-stroked it to the shore and grabbed a tree branch hanging over the water.
There, but for the grace of God go I...
I don't believe there is adequate training for the scout leaders here in the Intermountain West.
That's exactly what I've been thinking all week. What were they doing "pushing logs into the river"?
I'm so sad for this boy and his family. Unfortunately, all these accidents in the last couple of weeks have involved violations of safety guidelines. None of them should have happened.
Prayers for the family and all involved..
Walking 6 miles away from where the boy fell in, isnt going to save him. Why didnt the leader jump in and get him out?
Why would you let your kids go on a trip with a scout leader who wont jump in to get your kid if he falls in?
How many parents here would not jump in to get their child out of the water?
I just have to ask what the Scout rules are in terms of safety on trips such as this? Maybe the ratio of kids to Scout leaders isn't up to par? It saddens me to read stories like this. Hopefully the Boy scouts can revise what is already on the books for guidelines and come up with more strict rules for outings and camping. God Bless this boy and his family. I had a friend of mine who drowned in a lake. His family waited a month for his body to be found. It was awful. Prayers for all involved.
I have a 13 year old son.
There were three adults along. Maybe the one who walked to the phone couldn't swim.
Anyway, it seems improbable that any of the adults was near enough when the boy fell in for jumping in after him to do any good. If they had been, they'd have stopped the boys from pushing logs into the river ... it's pointless, dangerous, and violates the "leave no trace" rules.
I have taken my Troop out a number of times where there are, say, 3 leaders and 18 kids. It's easy in such a case for a few kids to get separated from the leaders' direct supervision for a few minutes, and that's all it takes.
We take Scouts up to Devil's Lake in Wisconsin for rock climbing. Once we climb up to the top of the bluffs, and before any activity starts, I usually give a speech along the lines of "This is a dangerous activity. When you are at the park district, all the sharp edges have been filed down and padded, the water fenced off, the glass picked up off the fields, and everything is done so that no matter how stupidly you act, you won't get hurt. Not here. This landscape is beautiful, but it will quite uncaringly kill you if you fool around for even a second. People die here every year, and it's always from doing something against the rules. I've explained the rules. You will follow them, to the letter, and you won't try to game them. Or you will be sent home, immediately, and I won't care how much your parents will complain to me."
It's usually quite effective.
I remember a time when we were in high school, probably about 15 or 16 yrs. old and we were at Grand Haven State Park on Lake Michigan on the pier during a storm, which is where anyone with a modicum of sense does not want to be, so of course, every kid is out there for the thrill. The waves were so strong and they'd come up over the pier, and you'd have to quickly grab onto a structure or you'd get washed into the lake or the channel. We did it a million times. Well, this time my friend couldn't hold on and she was washed into the channel, she should have drowned but by the grace of God, she surfaced and a huge swell pushed her almost to the edge of the pier. The other friend I was with and I reached out and literally lifted her out of the water. I thank God to this day (I'm 50 now) for His mercy that the two of of us didn't fall in while rescuing her and that she wasn't pulled under by the strong currents. It was truly a miracle.
It doesnt matter what the ratio is if the scout leader wont jump in and save the child. What if the kids to scout leaders ratio was 1-20? who cares if 20 leaders wont go in the water?
All I know is: that I am not going to let my grandkids go scouting with these scout leaders.
I was a scoutmaster for about 7 years. Based on that limited experience and the information from the MSM on this incident I would say that all were acting within guidelines. Some of the posters to this thread want us to spoon feed the kids their oatmeal every morning. The troop I was with had their own canoes and we used them extensively. I followed safety guidelines for water sports to the tee, but that is all I could do. I could not be in every location at all times, nor could the other dads I enlisted to help out.
My prayers are for the family and the mourning they are experiencing.
You must have never seen a raging mountain river, no adult could have saved him.
A scout leader who cant swim, should not be watching the boys who are near the water - same thing goes with lifeguards on our beaches - if they cant swim, they shouldnt be in charge of people near the water.
Yes, I have, and if it were my child, I would go and get him.
From your answer, does that mean that if your child fell in, you would do nothing?
Many years ago I took my scout troop to a local pool one night for a swim test. I required the boys to swim nonstop, fully clothed for 100 yards before they could even get into a canoe on a lake for a ride. I got them at the deep end of the pool and told them to jump in and swim two full laps. One boy who was new jumped in and went straight to the bottom. He couldn't swim a stroke, but was ashamed to admit so to me or his peers. We fished him out and I assigned one of my Eagle Scouts to teach him to swim. Within a month he was going off the low board and scaring his mom as she thought he was going to drown. He is now a successful businessman and is taking his kids canoeing.
The basic rules are posted in a document called "Guide to Safe Scouting", and it's posted on www.scouting.org. If you print it out, it's about 70 pages. There are also specific guides for aquatic activities, rock climbing, etc., and unit leaders involved in them must read them and take training courses in order to lead such activities.
But no training, experience, equipment, low Scout/Scouter ratio; in fact, no rules can overcome willful stupidity. Rules exist. But they have to be followed, and determined kids will generally succeed in violating the rules no matter how many leaders you have along.
I know that sounds harsh. I'd guess that the leaders told the kids, "Stay away from the river," and they didn't listen. And messing about with logs at the river bank, as was posted above, violates a few different principles of Scouting.
There's a reason why "A Scout is Obedient" is the 7th point of the Scout Law. I have to remind kids of that from time to time. Parents, too ....
It doesn't have to be a raging mountain river. Ever see the Ohio or Mississippi in flood stage? You could not pay me to get out there in a small boat, yet idiots do it every year and the Coast Guard or some other rescue unit gets to pull the bodies out.
I am glad that you fished him out. (seems the responsbile thing to do for a scout leader)
Happy to hear that you approve.
Since reading your replies to this thread I must ask: How many kids do you have and how old are they?
We camped in the Rockies next to rivers so fast I couldnt run on the banks fast enough to head them off, so the only thing to do would be to jump in and swim with the current in order to catch them if they fell in( but I would have done it instead of just watching them drift away)
I don't know whether any of the adults couldn't swim. Nor do we know from the news how long the group tried to rescue the boy before they sent someone for help, nor where the adults were at the time of the accident.
2. We know they did not try very hard to rescue the kid. If the river was not that bad where they were, they would have not have lost the boy. If the river was really really bad, they would have lost a scout leader as well.
The adults were supposed to be "with the boys"- that is the whole point of having scout leaders. If the adults were not around, they should not have taken the kids from the safety of their homes.
Would you let your young child be taken away to a raging river by someone who cannot swim, who will not be nearby nor will be watching him, and who will not jump in afer your child if he should fall in?
You'd only be happy if an adult died, too. I don't quite get that.
Recently here in NY a group of Scouts were on a whale watching trip. They were jumping up and down with every wave. They were told numerous times to stop jumping. Over and over again. The importuning was ignored by the boys.
One boy jumped one time too many and fell overboard and was lost at sea.
Every day we lose kids to accidents that could not be avoided, then we have those who die due to their own obstinance.
"Walking 6 miles away from where the boy fell in, isnt going to save him. Why didnt the leader jump in and get him out?
Why would you let your kids go on a trip with a scout leader who wont jump in to get your kid if he falls in?
How many parents here would not jump in to get their child out of the water?"
You both would die and what pretail would happen to your other children? I am the type of parent my child would have been with me and not allowed to be near the river.
kind of like the other boy in Utah who was lost for so many days when the boys left his ... meaning they took off on him.. don't seem like a safe group of people to send kids off too. mean kids I would say
The boy in Idaho fell, when there were not support ropes, another LDS troop covered up child sexual assult for, gosh... 15 years and 26 (at least) kids assulted.
I followed the story in Utah carefully. What seems to have happened is this:
The Troop was at the climbing tower, just before dinner. Usually at Scout camps like this, from 9:00 AM to Noon and from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM there are merit badge classes in the various program areas. From 4:00 to 5:00 there is "Free" time. The waterfront is opened up to Free Swim and Free Boating, the rifle range is opened up to Free Shooting, and the climbing tower is opened up to Free Climbing. The areas are still fully staffed; it's just that Scouts can go to whatever program area they want (instead of having to keep to a class schedule) and use the facility on a first-come/first-served basis. Everyone waits their turn. And since the Scouts can all scatter to different program areas, you often don't have an adult at each program area for each Troop.
Apparently, members of the Troop, likely mixed in with Scouts from other Troops, were at the tower (probably at Free Climbing) when the dinner bell rang. There was a steak dinner that night. When you've eaten camp food all week, a steak dinner gets you pretty excited. So all the Scouts there shucked off their harnesses and took off for dinner.
I teach climbing in the BSA. Climbing harnesses are deliberately designed to hold onto you real tight, and if you're not experienced (as this Scout wasn't), they are hard to get off quickly. Apparently this kid took a minute to get his harness off, and by the time he did everyone had taken off. So the Scout tried to find his own way, and got lost.
I do wonder where the staff was. They wouldn't have left the area until after the last Scout did. I figure that the young man left the program area going in the right direction, at which point the staff set their hands to picking up all the harnesses, stowing the ropes, etc., not thinking the Scout would take a bad turn once he left the area. You have to stow all that gear and lock it up so that no one will either steal it (it's expensive) or try to use it without supervision. The Scout came to the first turn and went the wrong way, and got lost. And then dodged rescuers for 3 days because Mommy and Daddy had put the fear of God into him about strangers.
Anyway; the Scouts who ran off broke about 4 of the 12 Scout Laws and also broke the Buddy System rule. "Every man for himself" is not Scout Spirit. That's the way most kids think, though. In fact, it's the way that most kids are brought up. We try to teach them different in Scouting, but it's hard to overcome what they're being taught the rest of the time.
When my Troop is at Summer Camp, I don't expect that all the kids will be under our Troop adults' supervision at all times. Keeping up with a bunch of 12-year olds is a tall order under normal conditions, never mind when you're living outdoors all week and the kids are normally scattered over 100's of acres. Under such conditions, it's not possible for 3 or 4 adults to keep all of 20 or 30 Scouts under their direct supervision at all times. But we do drill into the kids that it's an unusual environment and that the Buddy System will be strictly enforced. And then we DO enforce it. And we also speak to the older Scouts about keeping an eye on the younger ones.
I heard about that NY trip. Awful.
I have two occasions called parents in and told them, "Your son is continually disobedient. It makes him a danger to himself and to others. Either you have to start coming to all Troop events and directly supervise your son - and that means be with your son all the time, not hang out with the other adults - or your son has to leave the Troop."
Good for you. Your attitude may save a life.