- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2005

BOWLING GREEN, Va. — Three sons of Boy Scout leaders killed in an electrical accident at the National Scout Jamboree have returned home to Alaska, officials said yesterday.

“Our hearts go out to the families of these dedicated Scout leaders who gave so much to their sons, their troops and their communities,” Boy Scout spokesman Gregg Shields told reporters, his voice choked with emotion.

The four Scout leaders were killed when they were setting up a dining tent. Officials said the gathering, which attracts tens of thousands of Scouts, would go on as planned.

Mr. Shields said the accident was under investigation and he could not provide additional details. Asked whether a power line touched a tent pole, he said: “That’s what we’re investigating.”

The victims were identified as Michael J. Shibe, 49; Mike Lacroix, 42; and Ronald H. Bitzer, 58, all of Anchorage, Alaska; and Scott Edward Powell, 57, of Perrysville, Ohio. Mr. Shibe had two sons at the Jamboree, and Mr. Lacroix had one.

A memorial service was planned at today’s opening ceremony.

Three other adults were injured. One was in critical condition yesterday at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, one was in stable condition and another was discharged.

Alaska Gov. Frank H. Murkowski issued a statement offering his condolences to the victims’ family members and troop members.

“These individuals were killed while serving Alaska’s young people — and I admire and thank them for that service,” he said.

Increased safety measures were put in place because of the accident and temperatures expected to top 100 degrees, Mr. Shields said.

The jamboree is being held on 3,000 acres of the Army’s 76,000-acre Fort A.P. Hill. Army officials are assisting with the investigation.

The youths with the Alaska troops — 80 Scouts ages 13 to 15 — were moved to an Army barracks where a chaplain and grief counselors were available.

The jamboree runs through next Wednesday, with President Bush scheduled to speak tonight. The event, held every four years, attracts more than 40,000 Boy Scouts, leaders and volunteers from around the world.

Mr. Bitzer was a retired administrative judge and assistant scoutmaster of Troop 129 of Anchorage, according to troop Scoutmaster Ken Schoolcraft.

“Scouting was what he loved. He spent many, many, many hours working with Scouting,” Mr. Schoolcraft said. “It was a way for him to help others.”

The deaths came a day after a Boy Scout volunteer from North Carolina died at a hospital of an apparent heart attack.

The Boy Scouts of America have held the event every four years since 1937. The next gathering is set for 2010, five years from now, to coincide with the group’s 100th anniversary.

Associated Press writer Jeannette J. Lee in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.

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