This is making the news today due to the lawsuit, the death happened during the hottest part of the summer, the end of June, 2017. I lived in the Davis Mountains as a child and know the difficulties of doing anything there: oxygen is scarce! This was an unnecessary death, one has to be ‘hardened’ by heat and low oxygen before strenuous hiking/climbing in hot mountains. I spent most of my childhood hiking, running, climbing mountains in the Southwest. And Texas is very humid compared to say, Arizona! Humidity makes heatstroke even more likely!
The deceased Boy Scout was hiking from Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch into the mountains. It doesn’t look too hard from satellite but space photos flatten everything. These are very real, very wild and dense mountains! The highest mountain is at the bottom: McDonald Observatory.
The McDonald Observatory was originally endowed by the Texas banker William Johnson McDonald (1844–1926), who left about $1,000,000 – the bulk of his fortune – to the University of Texas to endow an astronomical observatory. The provision of the will was challenged by McDonald’s relatives, but after a long legal fight, the University received about $800,000 from the estate and construction began at Mt. Locke. The then-unnamed Otto Struve Telescope was dedicated on May 5, 1939, and at that time was the second largest telescope in the world. McDonald Observatory was operated under contract by the University of Chicago until the 1960s, when control was transferred to the University of Texas at Austin under the direction of Harlan J. Smith.
My father in 1956, was the lead astronomer for the University of Chicago. That is why we lived there in the biggest of the houses (six kids back then!). On with today’s sad story:
Here is a photo of the fine young lad taken during his last trip. He is somewhat overweight and would need a good deal of working out and training before attempting a mountain excursion. I remember very vividly my first day on Mt. McDonald: I jumped out of the truck, ran about ten steps and collapsed, gasping for air! I was, until that day, living at just above sea level.
It was odd, not having tons of oxygen! By the year’s end, I could race around the mountain like a maniac! When we moved to a lower altitude in Tucson, it was like breathing thick molasses. When we moved to Kitt Peak, it was easy for us kids to race up and down the mountain, using ropes and other tools to swing to lower levels, etc. We did it without thinking.
The heat: Wisconsin can be hot but the hot desert sun is quite different: it is dry and it sucks out your life if you are not careful. We once lived deep in Death Valley, well named! It was so hot, we had to turn our backs to the sun to protect our feet from being burned! The heat was like a hammer blow!
About running in the desert: I did this in early morning or in the evening, NEVER at high noon though I could in an emergency, race along just fine in the hot sun. It just wasn’t a fun thing to do, one avoided this.
The parents of a Texas teenager, who collapsed and died while on a backpacking trip with his Boy Scout troop, have filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America for sending their son on an ‘extremely aggressive hike’ in 100-degree weather.
Reid Comita, 15, was a student at Central High School in Keller, Texas, when he died from heat stroke on June 12 while hiking at Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch.
According to the lawsuit, Reid was not supervised by two adults and instead was accompanied by two teenagers.
And…this is why the Boys Scouts is being sued. The parents were told, adults would be supervising this.
The lawsuit also states that Reid didn’t receive proper training at the camp before being sent out on the more advanced hike.
Even with ‘proper training’ he was not ready for hiking like this. He had to have supervised training in a less dangerous place because he was an adult in size but knowing how males grow suddenly, he wasn’t ready for adult hiking, he was in bad shape.
The hikers were in the Davis Mountains where ambulances and other rescue crews could not reach him forcing other guides to perform CPR on him for more than an hour-and-a-half.
This shows how incompetent they are! Someone with heat stroke needs to be cooled down, especially THE BRAIN. If they kept him alive, his brain would probably be very badly damaged due to heat stroke. I have a lot of experience with heat stroke, due to being part of ‘search and rescue’ and so many city people try to trot about the desert in the afternoon sun which is crazy.
The key rule here is how to recognize early symptoms of heat stroke: the skin gets CLAMMY. When you pinch it, the pinch stays white or doesn’t relax to normal. Then the tongue swells. Spots appear in the eyes. Black people don’t have to much fear all this for Africans and native Australians have very dark skin and different types of sweat glands and can take heat much easier, white people in particular, are designed for little sun/extreme cold.
So…the Boy Scouts should train the leaders of troops how to ‘toughen up’ children and young men. There is a process for this! It can’t be pushed, it has to be developed. In the military, they ruthlessly trained young men until too many died, city kids are NOT country kids.
I was a country kid. The vast majority now, unlike 100 years ago, are now ‘city’ kids even the suburban kids are ‘soft’. So the Scouts have to pay a price for hubris here, there was no reason to kill a kid to teach him how to hike in mountains. It wasn’t a ‘bad storm unexpected’ event. It was a simple hot day with a greenhorn kid who was not ready for this sort of hike, and he ended up dead.