CIMARRON, NM (KRQE) – A weekend Boy Scout excursion turned deadly for a 13-year-old, swept away in flash flood waters. Now, his fellow scout troop and hundreds of others are honoring him in their trek.
Authorities said it was a freak act of nature in a northern New Mexico canyon that killed 13-year-old Alden Brock, of Sacramento, California.
Sky News 13 captured some of the damage on the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, just south of the Colorado border.
Around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, massive flood waters swept through camp, carrying four teen boy scouts. New Mexico State Police confirmed Monday, Brock was killed in the flood.
“It just was probably a freak accident,” Dick Burkhart said. His son attended Philmont in the past. He said leaders there make safety a priority for all boy scouts.
The Philmont Scout Ranch offers high-adventure wilderness training for hundreds of scouts daily. Saturday’s troop had just started a 12-day trek through camp.
“We’ve had people that have worked at the ranch for 30 years plus, and they’ve never seen anything like this,” explained Steve Nelson, Philmont Scout Ranch Spokesman.
Scout leaders said the group of eight boy scouts, (ranging in age from 13-17), three adult crew leaders, and one adult Scout Ranger made camp in Ponil Canyon, above a small creek. “I believe that the campsite was safe,” Nelson told KRQE News 13. “The spot has been for many years.”
What’s normally a small, 10-12-inch deep creek below, quickly became a wall, 23-feet of rushing water through the boy scout’s camp site.
“We began to try and alert the scouts and get them safe, but this came through very very quickly,” Nelson said. He said the camp site was several feet above the stream, but the flood waters came fast.
“I imagine that it was challenging to communicate with them because of the noise of the water that was coming down,” Nelson explained.
Three other teens caught in the flood made it to safety. Alden’s body was found about a mile from where he was swept away, according to State Police investigators.
“It was just a crazy sequence of events that caused this tragedy,” said Sergeant Chad Pierce, of the New Mexico State Police. He said the area is not known for flash flooding.
Monday, Nelson said the boy scouts at Philmont spoke with their parents, and chose to continue on their hike in honor of Alden.
One woman posted on the Philmont Scout Ranch Facebook page a message from her son. He said, “we’re safe mom, but our hearts are heavy. Even though we didn’t know the kid who died — he is our brother in scouting. We held a memorial for him on the trail and are praying for his family.”
Nelson said the troops do receive training for hazardous weather, and the scouts will have counseling available. The New Mexico State Police Crisis Management team will be there this week to talk with personnel, and those affected by Saturday’s tragedy.
Scout leaders have been assuring parents all weekend that the troops still on the trek are safe, in good hands. The Philmont Scout Ranch has had more than one million participants in 77 years.