Family Sues Boy Scouts For Leading Son ‘On A Hike To His Death’

September 9, 2017
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A  family from North Texas has sued the Boy Scouts of America over their son’s death after he collapsed on a hiking trip.

John and Lee Comita have filed a lawsuit in Dallas County on Aug. 18, seeking $1 million in damages from the scouting organization and Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch where their 15-year-old son, Reid, had died from a heat stroke back in June.

Reid Comita, who has been involved in scouts and show choir in Keller, collapsed while on a group hike at the West Texas ranch June 12. He was there to complete an “Intro to Backpacking” course, moving him one step closer to becoming an Eagle Scout.

Mr. and Mrs. Comita placed their son into the custody and protection of the Boy Scout defendants, and instead they led him on a hike to his death,” the lawsuit states.

It also states “Reid was not an athlete and was not in top cardiovascular condition,” when he arrived at the ranch to complete the hiking requirement. He selected the intro course knowing he was not in the best physical condition, according to the lawsuit.

On the day that Reid died, the lawsuit says the 15-year-old was sent on a hike without proper training.

“The next morning, instead of Reid starting his two-day orientation and training, he was immediately sent on an extremely aggressive hike in temperatures that produced a heat index in excess of 100 degrees, likely with the approval of the Outback Director or the Camp Commissioner,” reads the lawsuit.

While on the hike, Reid started to vomit and the closest help were ranch employees who were about a 90-minute horseback ride away, John Comita told mySA.com. Helicopters in the area were then grounded due to an electric storm, he said.

As officials worked on his son, John and his wife raced to the ranch and struggled to get updates.

Once help had arrived, an official performed CPR on Reid for more than an hour-and-a-half before a helicopter arrived, John Comita said. Kristi Coleman, a public affairs liaison for Customs and Border Patrol Air and Marine Operations, said a crew responded to the scene within 30 minutes.

“And they kept saying, ‘We don’t have any details,'” he mentioned of the ranch employees who told him EMS officials made them turn their radios off.

Roughly four hours after they got the initial call, John said the assistant scout master contacted them.

(My wife) answered the phone, and she screamed, ‘Oh my God,’ and she looked at me and said, ‘John, pull over,’” he said. “Well, I pulled over and then she told me. Of course I was devastated. Then I talked to him and I said, ‘Is my boy gone?’ and he said, ‘Yes, John.'”

The lawsuit says that Reid was dead for 4.5 hours before his parents were notified.

“I’m saying to myself, ‘This isn’t supposed to happen. This isn’t supposed to happen,’” John said.

In a statement to WFAA, the Boy Scouts of America said that the Comita family was in their thoughts.

This remains a difficult time for our Scouting community, and we continue to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers. The health and safety of our youth members is of paramount importance to the BSA, and integral to everything we do. We strive to create a safe environment for youth to experience outdoor adventure,” the statement reads.

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