Jasper Girl Scout killed in Camp Koch accident

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

Isabelle

CANNELTON — The Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana say the entire Girl Scout family is mourning the loss of one of its own, a Girl Scout from Jasper who died Monday after an accident at Camp Koch near Cannelton.

During a press conference this morning, authorities said 11-year-old Isabelle Meyer of Jasper was pronounced dead at an Evansville hospital after a large tree uprooted and fell on her and others at 11:30 a.m.

Another juvenile and two adults along on the morning hike at the Girl Scout camp at 6180 E. State Road 66 were injured. Perry County Sheriff Alan Malone said a nearby nurse and other Girl Scout leaders immediately responded to render aid. They were soon joined by emergency responders, deputies and Indiana State Police troopers, with the injured taken to hospitals in Perry County, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Evansville.

The other juvenile, a 10-year-old girl from Boonville, was treated and released. The injured adults were identified as Melinda Garmen, of Mt. Vernon, and Judy Kicklighter, of Evansville. The adult victims were reported by Malone to be in serious but stable condition today.

It was raining at the time of the accident but the area was not under any severe weather warnings.

A Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana statement said the organization “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. We have closed Camp Koch while we work with our camp officials, as well as local law enforcement to investigate the incident, and will release more information as available and appropriate.

“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.”

Malone said the victims were out on a morning hike. The hikers were coming down a gravel road on a fairly steep incline toward a mess hall when the tree fell. The sheriff said the ground was saturated but he does not know why the tree fell.

Herald file photo by Sarah Ann Jump
Isabelle added hand sanitizer to gift bags for chemotherapy patients during a meeting of Girl Scout Troop 670 in 2016. As a service project, the Girl Scouts gathered donated items and assembled gift bags to help patients feel as comfortable as possible during treatments.

“Nobody at the scene yesterday that was able to give us a statement indicated any kind of lightning strike or anything like that,” Malone said during the press conference.

Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana have been “extemely helpful and have also cooperated throughout this investigation. We had a lot of questions for them yesterday. We felt that we owed it to the families of the victims to get the best investigation we could.”

Other agencies assisting at the camp Monday were Perry County Emergency Medical Services, Perry County Rescue, the Tell City Police Department and Central Dispatch.

The roughly 500-acre Camp Henry F. Koch has been in operation since 1942.

Emotions got the better of the sheriff as he addressed the media today, saying the Girl Scouts were just there to have a good time and adding that there was an amazing response by all who tried to help.

“We prepare for this but it is never easy,” Malone said, especially when units roll up to a scene where there is a child involved.

Authorities at today’s press conference indicated their thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims, their families, staff and campers during this tragic time.

 




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