Celebration of scouting turns tragic in seconds

What others say

Posted: Tuesday, August 02, 2005

No Alaskan can hear about this week's Boy Scout tragedy without feeling the pain shared by all who know the victims. What was a routine camp activity — setting up a pavilion-style tent at a national jamboree in Virginia — turned deadly when a tent pole hit an overhead power line

In just moments, four adult Scout leaders died and another was seriously burned as others looked on, unable to save them.

One minute, Ron Bitzer, Michael Lacroix, Michael Shibe, Scott Powell and Larry Call were doing what they loved, giving their time and talents to help the youths of Alaska and the nation. The next minute, with no warning of danger, four of them were dead, and Mr. Call barely escaped with serious burns. Cruel is the fate that so quickly and unexpectedly snatches life from such generous and dedicated men.

Mr. Call is reportedly out of danger, and Alaskans wish him a speedy and complete recovery. Alaskans also remember the contributions and service of Ron Bitzer, Michael Lacroix, Michael Shibe and Scott Powell — and offer condolences to their families and friends.

— Anchorage Daily News,

July 27


The tragedy in Virginia that killed four Alaska Boy Scout leaders was a devastating blow to their families and friends and to Alaska's Scouting community.

The four were leaders in the truest sense of the word, people who gave unselfishly of their own time and energies in public service. They helped boys become men and worked to instill in them the qualities to become good men.

How and why such a tragedy could occur — how a tent could be erected under a live powerline at the National Boy Scout Jamboree — is a question to be answered by the accident's investigators.

Boy Scouts is a very safety-minded organization and the likelihood of such an accident seems extremely remote. But somehow it did, four good men are dead and four families devastated. Three other adults were injured in the incident, including Alaska scout leader Larry Call.

Killed were Michael J. Shibe, 49, Mike Lacroix, 42, and Ronald H. Bitzer, 58, all of Anchorage, and Scott Edward Powell, 57, a former Alaskan now living in Perrysville, Ohio. Shibe's 14-year-old twin sons were at the jamboree and reportedly witnessed the accident. Lacroix also had a son there.

... Despite the heartbreak caused by their deaths, it's important that the good works of these four men be long remembered.

— Voice of the Times, Anchorage,

July 27

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