- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

ELY, Minn. (AP) - A teenage boy and a woman from Texas camping with a Boy Scouts adventure program were killed and two other campers were injured when severe storms swept through a remote area along the U.S.-Canada border, the leader of the program said Thursday.

The boy and the female volunteer with the Northern Tier High Adventure Base Program died while camping, according to general manager John Van Dreese. Authorities said the group was camping on Basswood Lake in Quetico Provincial Park in Canada when strong winds blew through early Thursday. The Boy Scouts previously had said the campers were on the U.S. side of the forest in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but the Scouts later confirmed that the campers were in Canada. Quetico Provincial Park is adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Storms that moved through parts of Minnesota in the U.S. and Manitoba in Canada early Thursday knocked down trees and power lines. Strong winds knocked down trees that killed the two campers and injured the two others, the Boys Scouts of America said. The two young campers who were injured were taken to a hospital but their injuries are not considered life-threatening, the Boy Scouts said.

Ontario Provincial Police on Thursday identified the two who died as 13-year-old Christian James Sanchez of Lewisville, Texas, and 39-year-old Rorth Lac of Carrollton, Texas. A post-mortem examination is scheduled Friday. Canadian authorities are investigating but say the incident is not suspicious.

Nine people, including three adults and six boys, were part of the program and were camping near Basswood Lake near the Canadian border when the storms hit. Sheriff’s officials and other emergency responders were working on evacuating the rest of the group from the wilderness area, Van Dreese said.

“This is a very difficult time for our Scouting family,” the Scouts said in a statement Thursday. “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.”

The Scouts said they will offer grief counseling to their members and volunteers.

Last month, the brother of a Minnesota congressman was killed during a Father’s Day camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when a powerful storm brought a tree down on his tent. Craig Walz, 43, the brother of Democratic U.S. Rep Tim Walz, was killed at Duncan Lake as the storm hit. His son was injured.

The severe weather early Thursday knocked out power for tens of thousands of people in Minnesota on a day that was expected to be the hottest of the season. Trees, branches and debris blocked roads in northeastern Minnesota and elsewhere. Authorities in Duluth urged people to stay off the streets until they were cleared of power lines.

In Canada, a tornado touched down on the Long Plain First Nation, near Portage la Prairie, according to Environment Canada. About 18 families were being put up at an emergency center because of damage to their homes.

On a Hutterite colony southwest of Portage la Prairie, 20-year-old amateur photographer Rachelle Baer jumped into a truck with her father and headed out to get some shots of the storm. When they got to the back of the New Rosedale colony, they saw a twister touching down in a grain field. They raced back home and Baer got on the colony’s public address system to warn people to take shelter.

“It was surreal to have a tornado come through here,” she said. “Nobody who lives here has ever seen anything like it. It felt like there was a hurricane outside.”

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Scouts were in Quetico Provincial Park in Canada instead of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the U.S. side.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide