Victims of BWCA Storm ID’d (UPDATE)
Ely, MN (KROC-AM News) - The strong thunderstorms that hit areas of northern Minnesota early Thursday produced nearly 70 mile-per-hour winds that left tens of thousands of homes and businesses without power, and claimed the lives of a 13-year-old Boy Scout and an adult volunteer in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Boy Scouts officials have said the teenager and adult woman were fatally injured when the storm knocked down trees at their campsite near the Canadian border at Basswood Lake. Two other Boy Scouts suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to a hospital in Ely.
This is the official statement concerning the tragic incident from the Boy Scouts of America.
“This is a very difficult time for our Scouting family. During the early morning hours of Thursday, July 21, a severe storm with strong straight-line winds unexpectedly came through Charles L Sommers Canoe Base at Northern Tier. We’re extremely saddened to confirm that falling trees resulting from this storm caused the death of two attendees – a youth member and an adult volunteer leader – as well as two injured youth members who sustained non-life threatening injuries. These two youth were transported to the nearest hospital by Canadian emergency crews, out of an abundance of caution. We are working with authorities now to notify the families of those involved and will support them in any way we can.”
“The safety and well-being of our participants is our top priority. Immediately following the radio distress call, we contacted the local authorities for support, and began making contact with all crews on-site to offer assistance and assure the safety of all involved.”
“We are also mindful of the Scouts present on the outing and the impact the incident had on them, and will be offering grief counseling to our members and volunteers. Please join us in keeping these families in your thoughts.”
Northern Tier is comprised of three wilderness Canoe bases located across nearly 4 million acres of lakes, forests and wetlands in northern Minnesota and the portions of Canada. Each year, about 5000 Scouts participate in the Northern Tier program for wilderness Canoe expeditions. The Boy Scouts note many of the participants spent over a year preparing and that preparation includes severe weather training.
Canadian officials have identified the victims as as 13-year-old Christian James Sanchez of Lewisville, Texas, and 39-year-old Rorth Lac of Carrollton, Texas.
(Learfield Wire service contributed to this report)