Investigation Finds Scout Jamboree Deaths Accidental

The electrocution deaths of four Boy Scout leaders at the National Scout Jamboree last summer were found to be accidental, an Army spokesman said Friday.

"We'll be closing the case as an accidental death case," said Chris Grey of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. "We found no culpability for criminal acts in the death of the these individuals."

The Army plans to formally close the investigation within two weeks after an administrative review, Grey said.

The four men were electrocuted July 25, 2005, as they put up a dining tent near a power line during the gathering at Fort A.P. Hill. The 10-day Jamboree is held every four years and draws more than 40,000 Scouting enthusiasts from around the world.

The dead were Scout leaders Ronald H. Bitzer, 58; Mike Lacroix, 42; and Michael J. Shibe, 49, all of Anchorage, Alaska; and Scott Edward Powell, 57, of Perrysville, Ohio.

The four were helping two workers from Tents & Events Inc., a Fishersville, Va., company that is now closed. Witnesses said the four were erecting a large tent when its center pole touched overhead electrical lines.

The Boy Scouts of America said it will request a copy of the report to "try to understand what happened," said spokesman Gregg Shields.

"We didn't have any hint of any criminality," Shields said. "This is accidental, and we're going to look into ways to prevent accidents and make all scouting events as safe as possible."

Michael Harman, a lawyer for the tent company, said, "I've always thought it was just an accident."

The Scouts have held the Jamboree since 1937. The next event will be held in 2010 to coincide with the group's 100th anniversary.

The deaths of the four leaders were followed by days of intense heat that sickened more than 300 Scouts and visitors.