lightning strikes Boy Scouts
One of two doctors who treated Boy Scouts hit by lightning as they slept in a log cabin says he can't figure out how it happened. He calls it an "absolute freak accident."
One of the four Scouts who were struck, Paul Ostler, 15, died.
Two of the other three were flown to the University of Utah burn unit. The third was treated for minor burns and released.
Dr. Stephen Morris, a trauma surgeon, and Dr. Morris Matthews, an anesthesiologist, were still at Camp Steiner Thursday.
It's in Utah's Uinta Mountains, some 60 miles east of Salt Lake City, at an elevation of 10,400 feet, making it the highest Boy Scout camp in the country, and a magnet for lightning.
"We were in a camp adjacent when we heard the thunderbolt and saw the light," Morris said. "We knew it was very close, but we had no idea that it actually struck the shelter. We were first concerned about our own kids and people, and saw that everyone was safe. And then, within a minute or two, we heard a call for a doctor. And Morris and I … came over from our camp to theirs."
Matthews says they found lots of confusion, and two of the four boys on the floor. Ostler had no pulse and wasn't breathing. The other had a pulse and was breathing, but was unresponsive.
Both performed CPR on the victims, with Morris working on Ostler for an hour and 15 minutes. It took an hour for a team from Salt Lake City to fly in.
Matthews did his undergraduate work in electrical engineering, and says he can't comprehend how the lightning managed to do what it did: "This is in a wooden cabin. The only metal in the cabin was nails. It's surrounded by tall pine trees. It had been raining on and off, so the pine trees were wet. The cabin was dry except for the roof.
"It's an absolute freak accident. The boys were where they needed to be, their leaders were there with them. And we hadn't had a lot of lightning strikes. We'd heard a little thunder a half-hour or 45 minutes before, but then, this was just sort of a solitary bolt that came."