River Valley Ranch 12-year-old camper dies from storm-downed tree

Scene of falling tree death at River Valley Ranch camp. (Photo: Joce Sterman)

MANCHESTER, Md. (WJLA/AP) - Strong thunderstorms knocked down a tree at a summer camp in Maryland Tuesday evening, killing a 12-year-old boy and injuring six other children.


The storm struck the River Valley Ranch camp in Manchester about 7 p.m., authorities said. At the time, more than 100 children ages 7 to 12 were attending an event at an outdoor hillside pavilion.

When the storm approached, staffers tried to shepherd the children to a nearby shelter, camp executive director Jon Bisset said, but "the storm came upon them in a very quick and severe manner before all the children reached the building."

Cpl. Jon Light of the Carroll County Sheriff's Department said "several large pieces of a tree basically snapped in half and the large part of the tree fell," landing on the boy who was killed.

In all, the storm knocked down about 20 trees at the camp. The trees "were actually sheared from the force of the storm," Light said.

The identity of the boy who died has not been released, but officials said he had been to the camp before. Meanwhile, Bisset said Wednesday that the camp was reviewing how it responds to severe weather events.

He also said the grieving staff and families were leaning on a Bible verse that says God is a "refuge and strength" in times of trouble.

Some of the injured children remained hospitalized Wednesday, but all of the other campers who were at the site during the storm have been picked up by their parents.

A section of the sprawling Western-themed camp, where Children ride horses and learn Christian values, remained closed the day after the fatal accident. Parents were expected to return Wednesday evening to collect their children's belongings.