Parents sue Scout leaders in son's drowning

April 22, 1995|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

The parents of a Parkville Boy Scout who drowned on a canoe trip on Deer Creek in Harford County are suing the Baltimore Area Council of the Boys Scouts of America and five troop leaders for $5 million, alleging negligence in the death.

Mary Catherine and Jeffrey Sappington, parents of Justin Michael Sappington, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Scout leaders named as defendants are Paul DeSimone, Gene O. Fisher and Mark Evan Garrett, all of Parkville; Michael John Huneke of Forest Hill, and James Arthur Bowen of Glenarm.

The lawsuit acknowledges that Mr. DeSimone, Scoutmaster, was not on the trip, but alleges he planned it with assistant leaders and did not make certain that the part of Deer Creek to be traveled was safe.

Justin Sappington was 14 when he died in what authorities called a freak accident during a canoe outing with the St. Isaac Jogues Boy Scout Troop 124 last April 24. Authorities concluded that Justin drowned after his canoe capsized near Clark Bridge and he was wedged underwater by the canoe, the creek bottom and a fallen tree.

Justin was trapped for five or six minutes, authorities said. He died at Fallston General Hospital.

The Sappingtons contend that the assistant leaders and Scouts were not trained properly in canoeing and survival techniques, that the leaders failed to provide adequate emergency rescue equipment, and that they failed to use adequate rescue techniques.

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