Girl Killed When Tree Falls on Tent in Wis. Campground

Her father and a boy were hurt when a storm toppled trees in Devil's Lake State Park.


June 01--An 11-year-old girl was killed early Sunday when a tree fell on the tent where she was sleeping at Devil's Lake State Park south of Baraboo, the Sauk County Sheriff's Department said in a news release.

The girl, her father and a 14-year-old boy were inside the tent when the tree fell around 4 a.m. during a storm, according to the release.

One large tree that fell in the thunderstorm knocked down two other trees, and all three dropped on the campsite, Park Superintendent Steve Schmelzer said. No other damage was reported in the park.

The boy was able to climb out of the tent, but the man and his daughter were trapped beneath the tree, the sheriff's department said.

Baraboo Fire Department emergency responders freed the pair. The girl was pronouced dead at the scene. The man and the boy were taken by ambulance to St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo for treatment of injuries.

Names have not been released pending notification of relatives.

No other injuries due to the storm were reported at the park, according to Schmelzer.

The group was camping in a heavily wooded portion of the Ice Age Campground north of County Road DL, about one mile north of the lake, at the time, Schmelzer said. The incident remains under investigation by state Department of Natural Resources officials, he said.

The National Weather Service confirmed a thunderstorm moved through the area around 4 a.m. No storm warning was issued at that time.

If a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning is issued, park workers generally alert campers, Schmelzer said. Park staff also recommend that campers use weather alert radios.

DNR officials expressed sympathy for the family of the victim in a statement released Sunday.

"Visitor safety is the number one priority on all properties the department manages, and we do our very best to provide a safe environment for our visitors," that statement says. "Campgrounds are inspected regularly and action is taken to eliminate potential hazards whenever possible. Unfortunately, not all possible events can be foreseen."

There are 423 individual campsites at the park, including 353 that are available by reservation only. There are nine additional group campsites that can accomodate up to 240 campers. Schmelzer did not know Sunday if the sites were full for the weekend.

The park is a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, off-road biking, canoeing, kayaking and bird watching.

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