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Parent At Summer Camp Reacts After Toppled Trees Kill 12-Year-Old Boy

MANCHESTER, Md. (WJZ) — Heartbreak and questions linger in Carroll County after a powerful storm topples trees, killing a 12-year-old boy and injuring several other kids at a popular Christian camp.

Derek Valcourt talks to one parent at the camp as the state launches an investigation.

That parent has the same reaction that so many of us would have. She is horrified by the severe weather that caused this tragedy and gave her own child a close call.

When the trees at River Valley Ranch camp toppled onto kids rushing to seek shelter from a sudden storm Tuesday night, a call home alerted the parents..

“I was scared on many levels,” said Anna Lanford, parent.

Lanford’s nine-year-old daughter was among the group of more than a hundred 7 to 12-year-olds leaving a bible study session at an outdoor pavilion, heading for shelter when falling trees killed a 12-year-old, injured eight others and sent the rest running for cover.

Lanford, who also works at the camp, rushed to find her child.

“We came and she was safe in the Buffalo Lodge. She had a smile on her face, she had lots of good leadership around her,” Lanford said.

Camp directors praised staff for how they handled the tragedy. The state health department regulates summer camps and requires them to keep emergency plans. Health officials promise they’ll review the camp, which has a clean record, but say they are not investigating the tragic incident itself.

“Our goal is to look to look at the processes we have in place to see whether or not there were any issues with respect to compliance with our regulations and then use this as an opportunity to see if there are things we can improve,” said Dr. Clifford Mitchell, Maryland Department of Health.

For now, parents at the Christian camp, like Anna Lanford, are turning to prayers, grieving for the parents of the boy who died and not taking lightly how close they themselves came to tragedy.

“It could have been me,” said Lanford.

Grief counselors are on hand at the camp. All of the victims who were hospitalized are expected to recover.

Carroll County Police say it’s their policy not to release the names of any of the victims.

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