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Year-end review: Utah scouts saw tragedy in 2011

By Sam Penrod | Posted - Dec. 27, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Last summer found thousands of Boy Scouts out in the wild.

Three Utah scouts died during their outings, and there was another frightening moment that eventually ended well.

It was a typical July morning for Boy Scouts camping near Scofield Reservoir when a fast moving thunderstorm hit.

Lightning struck two scouts from South Salt Lake as they returned to their tents.

"I had a tingly feeling and a ringing noise in my ears," said Sean Smith, one of the scouts.

Sean Smith was knocked unconscious by the lightning, but tragically, his 12-year-old friend David Rayborn was killed.

"I shook him for about two minutes," Sean Smith said. "I kept calling out for help and nobody answered, so I ran to go get help at the camp."

"Kids aren't supposed to go to camp and have things like this happen to them," said Ron Nyman of the Utah National Parks Council. "We wish it wouldn't have happened. You can't call lightning back, unfortunately."

Boy Scouts throughout the state mourned David Rayborn's passing, as his family remembered him as a kind and talkative child, the oldest of three kids and someone who made friends easily.

"David was a wonderful boy," said his father, John Lavell Rayborn. "Very outgoing and a friend to everyone."

A tragedy involving a Boy Scout happened later the same day: this time at Bear Lake, when a 12-year-old scout from Nevada drowned.

Kids aren't supposed to go to camp and have things like this happen to them. We wish it wouldn't have happened. You can't call lightning back, unfortunately.

–Ron Nyman

Less than two weeks later, a Boy Scout was killed in a boat accident at Lake Powell.

Matt Parker died just a few days before his 15th birthday.

Then in mid-August, a situation involving a scout that had everyone fearing the worst turned into a happy ending.

12-year-old Jared Ropelato became lost on a Friday morning.

The search effort grew as the day went on, but there was serious concern as the sun went down and Jared was still missing.The next day, a volunteer searcher found Jared.

"We stopped at a lookout," said Nathan, the searcher. "I had a feeling to stop there and yelled his name, and he responded. I ran to him and got him."

Jared Ropelato was relieved.

"I was just glad I could hear them, and they could hear me," he said.

Jared credited what he has learned as a Boy Scout in helping him to survive a night in the wild.

"When we went to scout camp last year, they taught us how to built a lean-to and how to stay warm," he said.

The scout's family had nothing but praise for the hundreds of volunteers who came to help, as his mom held him tight, grateful he was okay.

"I'm happier than I've ever been, because I think I was as scared as I'd ever been," said Dawn Ropelato, Jared's mother.

Some good news to end the summer, marred by the deaths of three scouts.

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Sam Penrod


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