American Crime's Popular Posts

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Missing Boy Scout troop found

Missing Boy Scout troop found in Arkansas national forest
A National Guard helicopter made a tight landing Tuesday to rescue Boy Scouts who were missing after a weekend camping and hiking trip in an Arkansas national forest, officials said.

Early Tuesday, the six Scouts and two leaders from Lafayette, Louisiana, Troop 162 aimed flashlights overhead at the crew of the Arkansas National Guard LUH-72 helicopter.

The crew, using night-vision equipment, was searching the Albert Pike Recreation Area in Ouachita National Forest, said National Guard Capt. Chris Heathscott.

Heathscott, who was on board the helicopter, said the Scouts "appeared to be in perfect health and in good spirits."

Scoutmaster Jeff Robinson said the troop was stranded by high water. "We were just waiting for the river to go down so we could cross it," he told CNN affiliate KTHV.

Scouts Stephen Miller and Blake Dugas told CNN affiliate KATC they were more concerned with how their parents were holding up.

"Just was worrying about my parents, how are they going to freak out, are they going to freak out," Miller said.

The helicopter crew dropped two duffel bags with ponchos, blankets, water and food after first spotting the Scouts, Heathscott said. Robinson said the group didn't need the items.

The chopper returned at daybreak Tuesday and had to land twice in a narrow area surrounded by water and woods.

"It was a precision method," Heathscott said of work done by pilot Chief Warrant Officer David Specht and co-pilot Chief Warrant Officer Todd Adams. "It was unbelievable."

Art Hawkins, Scout executive for the Evangeline Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, said Monday that officials were confident the troop was safe, pointing out the troop's scoutmaster was very experienced and serves as a backpacking trainer. The average age of the youths is 14, he said.

Officials said the area had no cell phone service.

The Scouts themselves appeared to take the incident in stride. "It was just another day of camping," Dugas said.

"They seemed to be more excited about being able to ride in a helicopter than being rescued," Heathscott said.

Arkansas State Police were prevented from conducting an aerial search on Monday because of the weather, Hawkins said. A lack of cell service in the area also hampered search efforts, he said.

The area being searched was near the scene of flash flooding last summer that killed 20 people.

The Ouachita National Forest, the South's oldest and largest national forest, is a sprawling wilderness of 1.6 million acres, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. There are 480 miles of hiking trails and an abundance of campgrounds.

The troop returned in its van to Lafayette and received a standing ovation Tuesday night at St. Edmond Roman Catholic Church.

The group had filed an itinerary and was never in danger during the ordeal, Robinson said.

He had tried a creek crossing, but raging waters forced the crew to stay put, the scoutmaster said.

"If you start wandering around you make the situation worse," Robinson said. "We just stayed where we were. We were high. We were dry. We were safe."

No comments:

Post a Comment