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Scout killed in tree fall

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By ERIC WHITTAKER

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Feature Writer

By STUART CASSIDY

News Editor

CANNELTON ­– A Girl Scout was killed and three others were injured Monday at Camp Koch when a large tree uprooted and fell on the campers while out for a morning hike.

Emergency responders were called to the scene at Camp Koch in Cannelton shortly after 11:30 a.m. and staged vehicles from an access road as they worked to evacuate the victims.

“Individuals were trapped under a tree,” Sheriff Alan Malone stated at a conference Tuesday.

Within moments of the call to central dispatch, ambulance crews made their way from the accident site en route to local hospitals.

Isabelle Meyer, 11, of Jasper was transported to an Evansville hospital and later died from injuries to her abdomen and head. Another 10-year-old Girl Scout from Boonville, whose name was not released, was taken to Perry County Memorial Hospital with a wound to her hand.

Also injured were Melinda Garman of Mt. Vernon and Judy Kicklighter, both women in their 50s who were accompanying the girls on the hike. Garman was transported immediately to Owensboro Health Hospital. Kicklighter was initially transported to Perry County Memorial Hospital, then transferred to a hospital in Evansville.

Shortly after the incident, representatives from the Girl Scouts were still assessing the situation as members of the Perry County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Management Agency conducted investigations.

“It was a freak accident,” Malone stated, “Individuals were in the way when the tree fell.”

That sentiment was carried by Steve Hauser, director of Perry County Emergency Management Agency, who stated that despite the wet weather, the area was not under any weather warnings.

“Yesterday was an absolute tragedy,” stated Sgt. Robby Lambert, of the Indiana State Police Post in Jasper, “Every parent’s worst nightmare.”

The girls had been reportedly camping overnight as part of the Scouts summer programs.

“They were out there to have a good time,” Malone stated as he held back tears. “They were girls for the Girl Scouts of Indiana.”

A Girl Scouts’ statement issued Monday evening relayed the organization’s sympathies.

“Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana was deeply saddened to learn of the terrible incident involving a fallen tree that took place at our Camp Koch property today, resulting in serious injury to several campers and volunteers, and the tragic death of one of our Girl Scouts attending camp. There is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls and volunteers,” continued the statement. “During this difficult time, the entire Girl Scout family mourns the loss of one of our girls, and we ask for privacy for the individuals and their families as they grieve and mourn this tragic loss.”

The 500-acre Camp Koch has closed temporarily, though no statement has been given as to how long.