Scout's Death on Hike in Heat Triggers Lawsuit

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The Adelman's attorney Mark Sylvester, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June that seeks unspecified damages, claims this is not the first time that alleged Boy Scout negligence has resulted in a scouting death. A half-dozen scouts have died since 1990s, including boys who were struck by lightning in areas where thunderstorms had been forecast, drowned while canoeing in waters that had been described as dangerous or suffered heat stroke while hiking one of the most challenging stretches of the Grand Canyon.

"This is not a condemnation of the Boy Scouts; they are a very worthwhile organization," Sylvester said, noting the morals, values and leadership skills that are taught. "But at the same time, they have flaws. Children are dying. Children are being severely injured. And things need to change. It needs to stop. People need to know about it."

Burns, the Ohio assistant scout master, said the organization takes deliberate steps to minimize the risk of danger in challenging outdoor activities that, by their very nature, often involve risk.

"I can't imagine what it must be like for parents to lose their son," she said. "But what I can tell you is that the Boy Scouts is so proactive in everything they do in regards to safety.

"Everything we do is looking at what could happen, what are the risks involved, how do we prepare? There are circumstances that are beyond our control. But that's where our training kicks in. And that's where we use those skills we learned."

'Never Heard From Scouts That Night'

For the Adelmans, they said their heartbreak was compounded by the way they learned about the tragedy. The Collier County Sheriff's Office contacted them.

They also said they didn't hear from the Boy Scouts until about 24 hours after Michael's death, when Compton called at midday.

"The sheriff knocked on the door," Judith Sclawy-Adelman recalled. "He said, 'Michael.' And, 'He died.'

"When my daughter, my husband came home they were screaming and collapsing to the ground. That was almost as horrible. ... But we never heard from the Scouts that night."

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