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News Maryland Harford County Forest Hill

Foul odors from prank at Jarrettsville camp sent six to hospital last week

Six people were taken to a hospital and several others complained of being sick after they were being overcome by foul odors at a Jarrettsville camp last week.

The July 23 incident at Camp Wo Me To, a Christian camp in the 1200 block of Knopp Road near Rocks State Park, appears to have been triggered by a prank, Robert Thomas, spokesman for the Harford County Department of Emergency Services said, identifying the source of the odors as a commercial deer repellent and a gag product sold under the name "Liquid Ass."

Thomas said the county Hazmat Team was notified at 10:10 p.m. on July 23 that a 16-year-old was having difficulty breathing and had suffered "an apparent allergic reaction" to an odor in one of the camp cabins. He said Hazmat also was informed others had experienced "burning eyes and respiratory problems."

Eight Hazmat personnel were dispatched at 10:39 p.m. to the camp, where they found more than a dozen people had been affected by the odors, Thomas said.

The odors were present in cabins No. 9 and No. 3, said Thomas, who did not know how many cabins are in the camp.

At least 12 people were decontaminated by body washes and medical personnel assessed the conditions of those affected before deciding to transport six people to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, Thomas said. The cabins were ventilated, he said.

Members of the Chesapeake Youth Council were staying at the camp at the time, according to a statement sent out by the camp the following afternoon.

It was the 30th annual CYC Summer Camp for Greek Orthodox Christian children in the Baltimore metro area, according to the statement.

Both cabins were deemed safe after being ventilated, said Melody Knox, interim Maryland and Delaware director for Women's Missionary Union, a partner ministry of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, which owns Camp Wo Me To.

"The campers involved in the incident have slept in and will soon resume their normal schedule," Knox said in the statement.

Thomas said he did not have the ages of those who were transported to the hospital but said none of their conditions appeared to be life-threatening. On its media Facebook Page, the Harford Fire & EMS Association reported "four juveniles and one adult were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening symptoms; one adult was treated and released at the scene and 15 others were [decontaminated] at the scene."

Multiple medical units and personnel from Harford County and neighboring York County, Pa., came to the camp, according to Thomas, who said the county Hazmat Team spent more than two hours at the scene.

"An investigation found deer spray and a liquid product labeled 'Liquid Ass,' which produce a putrid, pungent odor appear to have been sprayed in the two cabins as a practical joke," Thomas said, adding that one Hazmat Team member described the Liquid Ass product as "an absolutely disgusting odor...like smelling some one who hasn't taken a bath in a couple of months."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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