Girl Scouts Resting, Back at Canoe Base After Encountering Lightning Strike in BWCA

Girl Scouts Resting, Back at Canoe Base After Encountering Lightning Strike in BWCA

Updated: July 27, 2019 01:41 PM

The nine Girl Scouts who encountered severe weather on the Knife Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Friday evening have been rescued.

The girls ranging in age from 13-20 were checked out and cleared by Ely Ambulance. Two of the girls were taken to the hospital for additional tests and observation and were released this morning. All of the girls are back at the canoe base and are now resting. 

"All the girls and guides have been checked at a hospital in Ely. The girls are back at the canoe base and have changed into dry clothes and were sipping on warm beverages," said Nancy McMullen, the Girl Scouts Lakes and Pines Director of Marketing, Communications and Customer Care wrote in an emailed statement. 

The St Louis County Rescue Squad said all patients and uninjured scouts arrived to the Moose Landing by 3:49 a.m. Saturday. All rescue personnel have returned safely to the Command Post as well. 

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad said everyone was “awake, alert and able to move without assistance.”

The rescue squad posted on Facebook that all in the group experienced the lightning strike but weren't directly struck by lightning.

The group was never missing, trapped, or stranded. A Girl Scouts spokeswoman said the group is from Chicago and were following a pre-planned route. 

"The lead guide called in the lightning strike, per protocol, informed authorities of their exact location per the planned route, and said 'they believe that lightning struck the ground and they might have experienced ground current,'" McMullen said.

McMullen said an EMT was with the group as of 11:08 p.m. Friday.

Girl Scouts Lakes and Pines staff has been working with local authorities, and the group has been in constant contact with medical personnel the entire time. The council is working closely with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to ensure the safe return of the Girl Scouts. 

Melissa Garza, Director of Program, Property, and Member Support, at Girl Scouts Lakes and Pines has personally contacted all of the parents and continues to keep them updated. Additionally, the girls are currently calling home.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office said they received a report of of a lightning strike at a campsite on Knife Lake in the BWCA at about 7:15 p.m. Friday. 

Rescuers said they had ground and paddle teams in canoes in the area. The Minnesota State Patrol also sent up an airplane to try to figure out exactly where the Girl Scouts are, but the Patrol told ABC News it had to land right away due to weather.

Gov. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) tweeted about the rescue Saturday morning: 

Rescue crews requested the Minnesota National Guard send out its Black Hawk helicopter to assist, but it was unavailable. It was "guard weekend," meaning the ships and crews were flying all day and as a result, mandatory crew downtime and mandatory maintenance must be performed before they are mission ready. 

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad said The Black Hawk is not a first-out resource that stays on standby for rescues like this. They are a special resource they can call when all other avenues are exhausted. 

St. Louis County, Lake County Rescue, Sheriff's Deputies, Minnesota DNR, Minnesota HSEM, Northern Tier, 911 Dispatchers, the Minnesota State Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, USFS, Ely Area Ambulance, and many other agencies were involved in the search and rescue of the Girl Scouts. 



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