Skip to comments.Falling tree kills girl, 8, at NJ Boy Scout camp
Posted on 09/09/2005 5:34:19 PM PDT by Coleus
Falling tree kills girl, 8, at Scout camp
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - An 8-year-old girl was killed and three others injured Wednesday when an oak tree crashed down on them during a first-aid class at a Boy Scout camp, authorities said.
The girls were participating in a class being taught as part of an overnight camp when the 31-foot tree suddenly snapped, falling on the picnic table at which they were sitting, Police Chief Kenneth Flatt said.
The tree broke about three feet from its base and crashed through a tarp over the picnic table, landing on the girl's head. She was pronounced dead at Southern Ocean County Hospital in Manahawkin.
The other girls - ages 9, 10 and 16 - suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from the hospital. One girl suffered a broken ankle; the others had bruises and scrapes. None of the girls' identities were immediately released.
The victim was from Doylestown, Pa., but her identity will not be released until today to provide for notification of next of kin, officials said.
A counselor who heard the tree crack before it fell yelled to the youths, but they couldn't get out of the way, Flatt said. The point of impact was about 10 feet from the top of the tree, he said.
"It was an accident. There was no warning. There wasn't a whole lot anybody could do," said Flatt.
The girls were among a group of 17 children on a weeklong "Learning For Life" program at the heavily wooded, 600-acre Joseph A. Citta Scout Reservation, said Ethan Draddy, an executive with the Jersey Shore Council of Boy Scouts of America, in Toms River.
|Friday, August 12, 2005|
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Tree experts were brought in Thursday to examine an oak tree that killed an 8-year-old girl in the latest of a series of Boy Scout-related tragedies. Authorities, meanwhile, quickly wrapped up their investigation and ruled out criminal charges, calling it an accident.
Kelly Beahan, of Doylestown, Pa., died Wednesday when the 31-foot tree at the Joseph A. Citta Scout Reservation suddenly came crashing down on a clear summer day, smashing through a 12-by-20-foot tarp and across a picnic table where she and three other girls were taking a break during a first-aid class.
The tree, which was apparently alive, struck the girl in the head. She was pronounced dead at Southern Ocean County Hospital. An autopsy by Atlantic County Medical Examiner Dr. Hydow Park called her death accidental and attributed it to severe head injuries.
The formal investigation into the accident has ended, according to Robert Gasser, executive assistant Ocean County prosecutor. "The determination was that it was an accidental injury. That ends our involvement. There's no criminality." But scout officials were still seeking answers about how an apparently healthy tree could become a killer with no warning.
"How does a tree just snap?" said Michael Robertson, a spokesman for the Jersey Shore Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which runs the camp. "We are ourselves checking that out. We've had investigative teams in from the Sheriff's office, the county prosecutor, local police and we're bringing in tree experts to look at the tree. We've had the state board of health in to look at it. "
Two tree experts not involved in the investigation said many things could have caused the outwardly healthy-looking tree to suddenly come down. "It could have been hollow, it could have been storm-damaged years ago and rotted out, it could have had root fungus problems," said Mark Petitgout, owner of Atlantic Arborists, in Linwood, which specializes in dangerous trees. "It's very, very specific to the tree, regardless of the species."
Tim Lenzsch, a state-certified tree expert," said the tree could have been damaged by lightning, hit by a vehicle bumper or improperly pruned at some point in its life, and the injury made it vulnerable to insect infestation or weakening associated with drought.
Meanwhile, its crown - the leaves, branches and acorns - could have held so much water that the weight rendered the weakened tree unstable, he said. Even in those cases, prevention can be difficult and catastrophic falls unavoidable.
"They call it an act of God, but I don't believe God would do that to an 8-year-old girl," Lenzsch said.
Earlier this year, a tree service removed some trees identified as dead but standing in the 600-acre camp, according to Robertson. The state doesn't inspect trees on private land. The other girls - ages 9, 10 and 16 - suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from the hospital. All three opted to return to the camp and continue with the "Learning for Life" program run by the Boy Scouts. They were members of a Camp Fire USA group from Ocean County, but Kelly wasn't, according to Camp Fire USA spokeswoman Jill Pasewalk. Parents of other campers were notified about the accident but fewer than five opted to take their children home, Robertson said.
Kelly Beahan's father and grandfather visited the site of the accident Wednesday, according to Robertson, who accompanied them. But family members could not be reached for comment Thursday. The family asked Boy Scouts officials not to release any information about them, and a telephone message left at the family's home was not returned.
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - An oak tree that fell and killed an 8-year-old girl last month was rotting from the inside before it toppled, according to a tree expert who examined it.
The tree crashed down suddenly Aug. 10 at the Joseph A. Citta Scout Reservation in this Ocean County township, smashing through a tarp and across a picnic table where Kelly Ann Beahan and three other girls were taking a first-aid class as part of a weeklong Learning for Life program run by the Jersey Shore Council of Boy Scouts of America. Kelly Ann, of Doylestown, Pa., was pronounced dead at a hospital.
"It appears that the red oak tree failed due to trunk rot/wood decay, most likely caused by previous multi-stem decline, which led to the spread of the internal wood decay," Steve Chisholm Sr., president of the New Jersey Board of Certified Tree Experts, said in a report to the Boy Scouts.
"This tree failure was, I believe, not due to any negligence on the part of the Boy Scouts but an unfortunate accident that was due to the decay that was not visibly evident," Chisholm said.
The tree was 36 feet tall, not 31 feet, as authorities originally reported.
Prosecutors have already closed their investigation, saying there was no criminal liability for the accident.
Trees in the heavily wooded 600-acre camp undergo a review twice a year, but it is impossible to check every live tree, according to Mike Robertson, a Boy Scouts spokesman.
"I don't know if there's anything we can do," he said. "It was a freak accident. We inspect our trees, and unhealthy trees are taken down in a very timely fashion."
Memory Eternal. How sad.
An unusually bad. . .sad year; it seems. A very sorry story here.
very, Very bad year to be a boy scout.
very, Very bad year to be a boy scout.
This was very traggic for the girl who died, but imagine watching your new (or long time) friend die right in front of you.
Very true, but that won't stop the dirty filthy slimy plaintiff's lawyers.
Happened to me when I was five.
Sorry to hear it. I'll bet you remember every detail.
I guess it wasn't your time yet, thankfully...
The randomness we face in life is generally ignored until something like this takes place. Then we feel as if we were the catalyst. No we aren’t.
This accident didn’t just happen to the little girl. It happened to you too. You went to that event to help the girls. Were the girls then guilty of bringing you into this situation? Of course not. And you are not guilty of anything either, except wanting to help young women live a better more fulfilled life.
I am so sorry this took place. What rhyme or reason is there in some things. It’s baffling how this could have happened, and yet it did.
The little girl was at a place she wanted to be. She was having a good time with other girls and the leaders she both loved and respected.
She could have been in a place terrified, with people intent on hurting her. She wasn’t. Her last moments were good. They were good because of you and the organization you represent.
I would not absolve you if I could, because there is no guilt in you.
God put you there, because he wanted the girl to go out with loving people all around her. Do you think it was easy for the angels around her to allow this evil thing to happen so sin would be revealed. Remember, nothing good emanates from Satan, and nothing evil emanates from God. It all has to play out.
Yvonne, the fact that you still carry this with you, reveals that you are a good person. You wish you could have done something. You couldn’t. I am so sorry.
Is there anything that can be said about things like this that will ease the pain? I doubt it, but people will still try, and they are right to.
God bless you.