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Claremont Boy Scout Injured in Lightning Strike at Camp

Claremont — One Claremont Boy Scout was injured in a lightning strike on Monday that hurt 23 scouts and three adults at Griswold Scout Reservation in Gilmanton, N.H.

Two scouts from Troop 38 in Claremont were in the group affected by Monday night’s lightning strike, but only one was injured, Scoutmaster Tom Liveston said. The injured boy was treated, but Liveston would not provide any information about the scout’s identity or injuries because he said the boy’s parents asked him not to give out details, but said the scout is “fine.”

None of the scouts were hit directly by lightning, but six boys had injuries that were considered serious because of burns and cardiac concerns, according to a Belmont Fire Department news release, and they were transported to Lakes Region General Hospital, Franklin Regional Hospital and Concord Hospital.

The remaining scouts were transported to nearby hospitals for minor injuries. The last patient was transported at about 10 p.m.

The 23 scouts were at Camp Bell, part of the Griswold Scout Reservation, when the lightning hit. The scouts were part of a youth leadership training program and included scouts from in and out of the state.

The boys ages ranged from 14 to 18, said Greg Osborn, director of marketing for the Daniel Webster Council for the Boy Scouts of America. There were about 120 scouts and adult leaders in the youth training program, Osborn said.

Lyme Troop 273 was also at the camp, said Sunapee district executive Alex Heinemann. He said he didn’t know if any of the troops’ members were injured and referred inquiries to the state organization.

About 20 minutes after the lightning struck, the 23 scouts and three adults started complaining about a tingling or burning sensation. The scouts were first taken to the camp’s medical station, where they were assisted by a nurse and two EMTs.

Belmont Fire Chief David Parenti said the scouts who suffered burns were “incredibly calm.”

“No one was screaming or yelling. Whatever we asked them to do, they did,” Parenti told the Associated Press.

Parenti said he was most concerned about the six boys whose chests were burned. Lightning burns usually have an entry and exit wound, Parenti said, which helped firefighters and EMTs triage the scouts to decide whose injuries needed attention first.

“What happened was, with some of the kids, you could see the burn come into the hand, up the arm, across the chest and out the other arm,” Parenti told the Associated Press. “That’s an entrance and exit that crosses the chest, definitely.”

The Belmont Fire Department received a call from Lakes Region General Hospital that informed firefighters that the scouts were en route to the fire station for their injuries. The six scouts were transported to the station in a pick-up truck, while the rest arrived in a camp bus. At least nine additional ambulances were called to transport the scouts to nearby hospitals.

As of yesterday morning, Osborn said all but six of the scouts had been released and had returned to their parents or to camp. By 6 p.m. yesterday, Osborn said only two of the boys remained in the hospital. Osborn would not identifiy which towns the injured scouts were from.

Camp Bell had no structures for the scouts to hide under, so they huddled under a canopy made of a tarp tied to trees. When the lightning struck, it hit a nearby tree.

Camp was back to usual operations yesterday morning and Osborn said there were a number of regular camps going on outside of the youth training program at both Camp Bell and Hidden Valley Scout Camp, both of which are part of Griswold Scout Reservation.

Osborn called the scouts in the youth training program the “best and the brightest.” The camp started on Sunday and will end on Saturday. The camp’s website says that teens in the leadership program will focus on team building skills and will experience the “simulation of a month in the life of a unit, complete with meetings, activities, and planning for the big monthly outing.”

Liveston, scoutmaster for Troop 38, was at home in Claremont on Monday when he received a call from a parent.

“I was on the phone probably until 12 o’clock last night,” Liveston said. “The only way I found out was that a parent contacted me and let me know. The camp wasn’t giving any information out.”

However, the camp was calling parents, Liveston said.

There were an additional seven boys and three troop leaders from Troop 38 at Camp Bell, but they were separate from the youth training group and were not affected by the storm, Liveston said.

The troop leaders who attend the camp must go through an online hazardous weather training course, Liveston said, adding that many Boy Scouts have also completed the online training course.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.