Falling Trees Kill Maryland Camper; Injure Others

One child is dead and eight others injured after a storm-related incident at River Valley Ranch Tuesday night, according to Lineboro fire company officials.

Around 7 p.m., a fast-moving storm system with powerful winds and heavy rains caught campers by surprise at a Christian summer camp at River Valley Ranch, in the 4400 block of Grave Run Road, Manchester, according to Lineboro fire company Public Information Officer Donald Fair.

"Because of the speed [the storm] was traveling, it caught the campers away from their shelters," Fair said. "They were trying to get back to their shelters when they had trees break on them and one camper was trapped."

The trapped camper was transported to medical care but later died, according to Fair.

According to a press release from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office that was sent at 11:43 p.m. Tuesday, 114 campers ranging in age from 7 to 12 were attending a program under a pavilion on a hill when the storm approached. Camp staff directed the campers to an enclosed building but the storm hit before they could reach shelter.

Six other children were transported to area hospitals for the treatment of non-life threatening injuries, according to the release, and two additional children were treated at the scene.

According to its website, River Valley Ranch is a nonprofit, western-themed Christian summer camp offering overnight programs for children ages 7 through 17.

Doug High, of Manchester, said that he discovered his daughter Kirsten was one of the children injured in the storm when he received a call from a nurse at Carroll Hospital Center at around 11 p.m. Tuesday night saying that Kirsten was being held with a concussion.

"I was told she was running for cover and was struck in the head," he said. "There are multiple camps [at River Valley Ranch] and the one that was struck hardest was Fort Roller ... that's typically ages 9 to 12 and my daughter is 11."

High lost power at his home during the storm and said he planned to take his daughter to a hotel for the night. He said that his daughter loved attending camp at River Valley Ranch and that he could not find out if the program will be canceled.

Parents of campers at the Fort Roller and Arrowhead Woods campsites have been contacted and told to pick up their children at the camp, according to the Sheriff's Office announcement.

"I hope it does not cast a bad light on the camp, it's just one of those things," he said. "It's a Christian camp too, so it's unfortunate that this happened."

According to the Sherriff's Office press release, detectives are investigating the incident, but no further details were immediately available.

The severe weather also caused widespread power outages in Carroll County, according to BGE Spokesman Aaron Koos.

Koos said about 6,100 customers were without power in Carroll County as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, and with calls beginning to come in between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. As reports of outages continue to come in, BGE expects that number to rise.

"Our crews are actively restoring power at this point and it will be a process that lasts through tomorrow," he said. "As of right now there is no estimate for complete restoration."

In total, about 38,437 customers were without power in nine counties, according to Koos, including Baltimore City. The two areas in Carroll County most affected by outages were Westminster and Eldersburg, according to Koos.

Customers may call 877-778-2222 to report outages.

Contact Times Staff Writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com.



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