ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – National Boy Scouts officials apologized for remarks implying that four adult volunteers shared responsibility for their own deaths while setting up a tent beneath a power line at the national Jamboree in Virginia.

Spokesman Stephen Medlicott said Friday the group wanted to clear up “some confusion” about the scouts’ position.

The Boy Scouts have “not assigned blame” to the Alaska Scout leaders involved in Monday’s deaths, national officials said in a statement issued Thursday.

“We apologize for any statement we’ve made which might be construed as assigning blame.”

The statement came a day after Jamboree spokesman Gregg Shields said the Alaska group had ignored scouting teachings by putting the tent under a power line at Fort A.P. Hill, the Army base where the 10-day event is being held.

He also said the group leaders had taken the “somewhat unusual” step of hiring a contractor to help with the task.

“Boy Scouts are taught not to put their tents under trees or under power lines. I don’t know what happened in that case,” Shields had said Wednesday.

The Virginia-based tent company hired for the job sent two workers to set up two dining canopies at the Jamboree, Alaska Scout officials said. The tent workers set up the first canopy while the leaders and Scouts set up sleeping tents, Bill Haines, a Scout executive in Alaska, said in a statement Thursday.

The accident occurred when the contractors asked the Alaska leaders for help raising the second canopy, Haines said.

Some Scouts had been watching as the metal pole at the center of the large, white dining tent touched power lines. The men were touching the metal and were electrocuted.

Killed were Michael J. Shibe, 49, Mike Lacroix, 42, and Ronald H. Bitzer, 58, all of Anchorage. Also killed was Scott Edward Powell, 57, who had recently moved from Anchorage to Perrysville, Ohio. Shibe had two sons at the Jamboree and Lacroix had one.

Three adults, including the two tent workers, were injured. One of the injured people returned to the Jamboree after being released from the hospital.

The Army is investigating the accident. The Boy Scouts are “cooperating closely,” Medlicott said.

A spokesman for the canopy supplier – Tents & Events, a Fishersville, Va., division of a company called RentQuick.com – said the company is also cooperating with the investigation.

“When it is completed, information will then be available,” attorney Michael Harman of Richmond, Va., wrote Friday in an e-mail. “That’s all we can say at this point other to extend our condolences and sympathies to the families.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.