Girl Scout died in ‘freak accident’ at Camp Koch

Local News

TELL CITY, Ind. (WEHT) — An 11 year-old Girl Scout was killed when a tree suddenly fell on her and three others as they hiked along a gravel road Monday morning at Camp Koch in Cannelton.

Now there is nothing but heartbreak in Perry County. It is a day that should have been filled with fun and laughter for Girl Scouts. Instead, it is tears and mourning.

“We had an amazing response,” said Sheriff Alan Malone choking back tears at a Tuesday news conference. “Unfortunately, the girl died.”

It’s difficult even for seasoned law enforcement officers to hold back because this isn’t supposed to happen. It’s so obvious now how little things in life matter most.

Isabelle Meyer was hiking Monday with a group, just like countless Girl Scouts before her have done, since 1942.

“Yesterday was an absolute tragedy,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Robbie Lambert said. “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Isabelle died at a hospital. She had injuries to her head and stomach.

“They were there to have a good time,” Malone said. But were they doing anything wrong? No.”

Malone said it is a freak accident. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. About a mile inside this gate, Malone said the tree that fell on Isabelle and three others was about 35 to 45 feet tall.

“The ground is very saturated, but why that tree right there fell, I wish I could tell you.”

Authorities report two adults, Melinda Garman from Mt. Vernon, Ind. and Judy Kicklighter from Evansville, Ind. are stable and recovering in the hospital.

A 10-year-old Girl Scout from Boonville, Ind. was treated and released.

“I cannot say thank you enough to the gentlemen behind me who so desperately tried to save Isabelle’s life,” Sgt. Lambert said. “Your efforts are not for nothing.”

A Girl Scout camp chaperone called 911 and helped guide first responders to the front gate. You can listen to a portion of it below.

Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana released a statement Monday.

“Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana was deeply saddened to learn of the terrible incident involving a fallen tree that took place at our Camp Koch property today, resulting in serious injury to several campers and volunteers, and the tragic death of one of our Girl Scouts attending camp. There is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls and volunteers.  We have closed Camp Koch while we work with our camp officials, as well as local law enforcement to investigate the incident, and will release more information as available and appropriate.  During this difficult time, the entire Girl Scout family mourns the loss of one of our girls, and we ask for privacy for the individuals and their families as they grieve and mourn this tragic loss.”

Camp Koch is closed for the time being.

Perry County officials say they may come to inspect other trees to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Without Isabelle, it may seem hard to believe the sun can ever shine as bright. But Sheriff Malone says his home will heal together.

“I know, I’ve been here for a long long time,” he said. “I know Perry County will stand tall.”

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This story was originally published on June 25, 2019

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