A Boy Scout troop's camping trip turned deadly when a massive flood swept through their encampment, turning their tents into deathtraps and claiming the life of a 13-year-old boy, according to newly released police documents.
Reports and audio interviews obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican revealed the tragic scenes, which unfolded as eight boys from California took a 12-day trip with chaperones to the Philmont Scout Ranch in northeastern New Mexico.
The chaos came on suddenly at about 4.30am on June 26, while the boys and the adults were asleep in their tents, according to reports.
“You could hear people yelling, but you couldn’t understand what they were saying,” Michael Evans, one of the adults, later told police.
The rush of water hit the tents with such force that the shelters became “makeshift cages,” entrapping the campers inside and clinging to their bodies like Saran Wrap, witnesses said.
“We started trying to get out of the tent,” boy scout Logan Reed reportedly told authorities. “We couldn’t get to the zipper.”
But his tent mate Alden Brock, 13, remained relatively calm during the ordeal, trying to open the zipper and telling Logan: “Don’t panic.”
Some campers were able to rip through their tents with their teeth and escape, but four boys were swept down a canyon, including Logan and Alden.
“We floated down the stream, I guess, for a little bit,” Logan said. “I guess there was a hole in the bottom of the tent, and I slipped out of that. I said one last time, ‘Alden, there’s a hole in the tent!’”
Logan went underwater “for a while,” and when he resurfaced, he told investigators he “never saw the tent after that.”
Logan held onto a patch of reeds until he was found downstream at sunrise. Alden’s body was found about 11 a.m., approximately three-quarters of a mile to one mile from where the water swept him away, officials said.
The National Weather Service had issued a storm alert for the region an hour before the surge of cold water hit the scouts’ camp, which was set up about 20 feet upslope from a small creek.
“They estimate that the wall of water that came down through there was anywhere between eight and 12 feet," Colfax County Sheriff Rick Sinclair said in an interview.
New Mexico State Police investigated the incident and determined the flood to be a freak accident that could not have been prevented. A campsite further upstream that flooded regularly “was closed for the safety of the scouts,” a police report noted, but there was no mention of how far upstream the camp was located or why the camp was closed.
“It was an unfortunate incident that occurred, and unfortunately that group of Boy Scouts got caught up in it,” state police spokesman Sergeant Chad Pierce said in an interview.
Alden was laid to rest in Sacramento, California. “Alden embodied all aspects of the Scout Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,” said his obituary, which called him “Philmont’s Fallen Scout.”
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