Michigan Boy Scout dies on camping trip after being buried in collapsed sand dune

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by Eric Pearson

A 12-year-old boy died recently on a Boy Scouts trip near Kalamazoo, Michigan. Police say that Gage Wilson died after being trapped in a sand dune at North Point County Park, which is located on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The fatal accident occurred during a Boy Scout trip that involved camping and cleaning the site of an ecological project inside the park. According to an initial police investigation, Gage was digging in one of the park’s sand dunes. After crawling inside a small hole he had dug into the sand, the dune collapsed, trapping Gage inside.

Although Gage was accompanied by two other Boy Scouts at the time of the accident, police say that they did not notice the boy was missing for about 30 minutes. Sgt. Mike Knizewski of the South Haven Police Department said that the two other Scouts “saw part of [Gage’s] body. I think his legs were exposed out of the sand, and that’s when they realized something was wrong.”

While scout leaders performed CPR, first responders were called to help transport Gage to the hospital. After emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the accident, they were able to successfully resuscitate the young boy. However, authorities say that the first responders struggled to transport Gage to an area that could be safely reached by helicopter. Emergency personnel had to hike up the sand dunes, through wooded areas, and across water before they were finally able to reach the helicopter landing area. Gage was airlifted to the Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. However, the boy later succumbed to his injuries.

Local authorities are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Gage’s unfortunate death. The boy’s family says that police have received inconsistent statements from individuals who were at the scene of the accident, including how long the boy had been missing before he was found and how closely he was being watched by scoutmasters at the time of the accident. A statement released by the Michigan Crossroads Council of the Boy Scouts of America also failed to indicate how many organizers had been supervising Gage and his scout troop at the time of the fatal accident.

Gage’s grandparents – who were also his legal guardians – say that the 12 year- old enjoyed many activities in addition to scouting. In addition to playing an instrument in his school’s band and singing with the choir, Gage also held a yellow belt in taekwondo, was a swimmer, and was active in his church activities group.

Lawsuits Against the Boy Scouts Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have tried and settled hundreds of cases involving personal injuries, wrongful death, and other legal matters.

In September 2017, our law firm filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of a 15 year-old boy who died from heat exhaustion on a Boy Scout hiking trip in west Texas. Heygood, Orr & Pearson recently defeated a summary judgment motion filed by Buffalo Trail Council, one of the defendants, seeking judgment on the Comitas’ negligence and gross negligence claims.  The case is awaiting a trial date in the 95th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas.

For more information about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson to receive your free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.