Four Scout Leaders Die in Electrical Accident

By Karin Brulliard and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 26, 2005; 12:12 PM

FORT A.P. HILL, Va., July 26 -- Four adult Scout leaders from Alaska were killed Monday afternoon at the Boy Scout Jamboree in an electrical accident that apparently occurred when a pole from a tent they were setting up struck an overhead power line, officials said.

Three others, a Scout leader and two contract workers, were injured in the accident, which happened a few hours after the official noontime opening of the jamboree. The gathering draws thousands of Scouts every four years from across the United States and many foreign countries.

No Boy Scouts were injured.

Officials Tuesday identified the dead men as Michael Shibe, 49; Mike Lacroix, 42; Ronald Bitzer, 58, all from Anchorage, Alaska, and Scott Edward Powell, 57, of Perrysville, Ohio. Jay Lawrence Call, 43, also of Anchorage, was the injured Scout leader, they said.

The two contract workers were identified, but officials said one had been released from the hospital and the other was in stable condition at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond.

Bill Haines, an official of the Scouts' Western Alaska Council, said Monday that two of those killed and the injured leader had children with them at the jamboree, about 75 miles south of the District.

"It's a very tragic loss for all of us," Haines said.

The children, he said, were coping. "They are all being taken care of," he said.

Scouts spokesman Gregg Shields told the Associated Press Tuesday that the boys had left for Alaska.

Sheriff A.A. "Tony" Lippa Jr. of Caroline County said a preliminary investigation indicated that the pole had struck the power line but that authorities had not determined how it happened. "We're not sure if the poles shifted," he said.

Scout officials gave no details of how the accident occurred, other than to say that it was between 4:30 and 5 p.m. while the camp for the Alaskans was being set up. One person with knowledge of jamboree operations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an investigation is underway, confirmed that a tent-support pole touched an electric line.

After the accident, witnesses saw a slender pole that protruded through the apex of a pyramid-shaped tent and appeared to be touching one or more overhead lines. The tent was one of two at the Alaskans' site that appeared to be intended for use as a group gathering place rather than for sleeping.

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