16-year-old Scout drowns at camp
Authorities say a medical condition may have been involved in the drowning.

By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2003


SPRING HILL - A 16-year-old Boy Scout drowned at Sand Hill Scout Reservation Friday after suffering what authorities believe was a medical condition. Jeff Sharlow of St. Petersburg was hiking with an adult adviser, Kim Vogel, 43, of Tarpon Springs, about 4:30 p.m. when they decided to cut through a pond, said Hernando County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Joseph Paez.

As they waded deeper into the waters, Sharlow apparently stepped into a hole and was submerged, said Paez.

When he finally came to the surface, he grabbed Vogel in an attempt to right himself, causing the man to go under. However, Vogel regained his balance and waded to shore, Paez said.

Paez said there was initial confusion over whether Sharlow was in the murky waters or had scampered off to another part of the Scout reservation off State Road 50. But after 15 minutes and a head count, Scout leaders determined that Sharlow was last seen in the water.

At 5:25 p.m., the body, still dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, was recovered in a search that involved sheriff's deputies mining the pond from a helicopter and canoes borrowed from the reservation.

Minutes earlier, Scouts huddled along the banks, praying and consoling each other. Emergency personnel had escorted them out of the water after they frantically searched for their friend. Members of the Junior Marines and the media were also ushered back.

Paez said Sharlow would be taken to the medical examiner's office in Leesburg, where the body will be examined.

The 1,200-acre reservation is owned by the Gulf Ridge and West Central Florida councils of Boy Scouts of America and plays host to hundreds of youths during the summer. More than 100 Young Marines from across the state held a weeklong encampment at the reservation.

Representatives at Sand Hill Reservation were unavailable for comment Friday.