OCEAN TOWNSHIP, N.J. – An 8-year-old girl died and three others were injured Wednesday when a tree fell on them during a first-aid class at a Boy Scout (search) camp, authorities said.
The girls were participating in the class at an overnight camp when the 31-foot tree suddenly snapped, crashing through a tarp over a picnic table at which they were sitting, Police Chief Kenneth Flatt said.
"It was an accident. There was no warning. There wasn't a whole lot anybody could do," said Flatt.
The tree landed on the 8-year-old girl's head. She was pronounced dead at Southern Ocean County Hospital (search) in Manahawkin.
The other girls — ages 9, 10 and 16 — suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from the hospital. Their identities weren't immediately released. One girl suffered a broken ankle; the others had bruises and scrapes.
There were seven counselors on the scene at the time, and one who had been teaching the 45-minute first aid class administered CPR on the girl, to no avail.
The girls were among a group of 17 children from a northern New Jersey group called the Resident Camp Association (search). They were on a weeklong "Learning For Life" program at the heavily wooded, 600-acre Joseph A. Citta Scout Reservation, according to Ethan Draddy, an executive with the Jersey Shore Council of Boy Scouts of America.
The group had arrived Sunday and was to stay until Friday, Draddy said.
"We are feeling completely and utterly devastated," he said.
The camp undergoes a safety inspection at least twice a year, but it wasn't clear whether the tree was part of that inspection, Flatt said. It had rained overnight but there had been no lightning reported, he said.
The tree accident was the latest in series of tragedies to strike scouting-related activities this summer.
Four adult Scout leaders were killed in a July electrical accident in Virginia at the National Boy Scout Jamboree (search). Five other people have died this summer from drowning and lightning during Scout outings in Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and California.