Officials provide update on River Valley Ranch death

Boy, 12, killed by falling tree in wind storm

Carroll County officials did not release the name of the 12-year-old boy who was killed Tuesday night after getting caught in a severe wind storm that brought down a tree on a group of campers

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, River Valley Ranch's executive director Jon Bisset said staff followed all of the camp's protocols for dealing with severe weather. 

“It’s a very sad day here at River Valley Ranch," Bisset began. "Our hearts are heavy for the victims who were involved in the incident up here.  We’ve been around for 62 years and we’ve never had anything like this ever happen before. This has been a very difficult time for us. We’re pressing on and moving forward and our hearts and prayers are will the families involved.” 

He said he spoke with the mother of the boy who died but opted to keep the the conversation private. 

"We had a good conversation," he said. 

He also said he plans to keep the camp open. 

Carroll County Sheriff's Office Cpl. John Light said that the eight other boys who were injured by the falling debris were expected to survive .

The group of campers were in an open-air pavilion for a prayer service, about 150 yards away from a shelter hall at the campground.  A camp staff member saw the sky go dark quickly and began to usher the campers toward the hall. 

"The storm came upon them rapidly and quickly and violently, without any notice and unfortunately this is what happened," Bisset said. 

About 15-20 trees were brought down be the destructive wind. 

"It looks like a tornado went through a small section of this camp right where these campers were," Bisset said. 

The victim was a 12-year-old boy who had attended the camp before. Bisset said he had attended the camp for several years. 

“We are a Christian camp and we do believe in our heart that God is in control and despite difficult circumstances in our life we rely on his for our strength," Bisset said. "That’s what we’re doing here. That’s what we’re telling our staff. That’s what we’re saying when we talk to the families involved. We’re just trying that something good that will come from this but right now we’re just sad. It’s been a tragic situation." 

Bisset said that the decision to keep the teenagers' camp and the day camp open was based on advice from grief counselors. 

The storm swept through Arrowhead Woods and will require a fair bit of cleanup, Bisset said. 

Refresh for updates. Video to be posted shortly. 

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