Scouts, leaders rescued in Western Md. Carroll group on canoe trip used cell phone from creek


HANCOCK -- Eleven Eldersburg Boy Scouts and six adult chaperones caught after dark Saturday on a remote Western Maryland creek were rescued after a Scout leader used a cellular phone to call for help.

None of the Scouts, ages 12 to 14 from Troop 883, or the adults was injured, according to Dave Hayes, a Washington County paramedic supervisor.

Nine boats began a canoe ride about 11 a.m. off High Germany Road in the shallow rapids of Sideling Hill Creek, according to John Geiman of Eldersburg, one of the adults supervising the trip.

The creek forms the border between Washington and Allegany counties.

The group had planned to follow an 11-mile route that three Scout leaders had used about a month ago, he said.

At this time of year, the creek usually is nearly dry, according to Wayne Baier, site manager at the nearby Lillian Aaron Straus Boy Scout Camp. This summer's unusually wet weather, however, made the creek high enough to navigate in some places, he said.

The creek moved slowly and was very shallow, Geiman said. In some places, Scouts were forced to carry their canoes over protruding rocks, and the trip took hours longer than planned, he said.

When the sun set, the troop was less than a mile from its destination, Geiman said, but it was getting too dark to continue.

"It was a little scary, but not that scary," said Geiman's son, Brett, 14. "A few of the kids cried a little, but that was about it."

At about 8 p.m., a Scout leader with a cellular phone called 911, the elder Geiman said.

Rescuers, using a state police helicopter, located the troop near Woodmont Road in about a half-hour, Hayes said. At the direction of state police, paramedics drove up a dirt road near where the Scouts were and rescued them.

The boys were wet, cold and shaken but otherwise unharmed, Hayes said. The group was able to drive home Saturday night.

Pub Date: 8/19/96

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