Utah Boy Scout dies during trip in High Uintas, authorities suspect altitude sickness

DUCHESNE COUNTY, Utah -- A Boy Scout from Salem died during a hiking excursion in the High Uintas Saturday, one day before his 18th birthday.

According to a press release from the Duchesne County Sheriff's Office, 17-year-old Douglas Jeffery Julian died as his Boy Scout troop began trying to hike out of the mountains to get him medical attention for an apparent illness Saturday morning.

The release states Julian would have turned 18 Sunday.

While a medical examiner will work to determine the cause of death, authorities say at this point they believe altitude sickness was a factor.

“That’s the only possible reason we have,” stated Lt. Jeremy Curry of the Duchesne County Sheriff's Office. “Right now we have no reason to believe it was anything else.”

The press release states the teen and his troop were camped in the Chain Lakes area in Krebs Basin Thursday when Julian began to complain of nausea and a headache. The teen was still sick Friday night, and the group decided they would pack up early Saturday to hike back to the trailhead and get him some help.

Saturday morning a Scout leader set out earlier than the group and hiked for 8 to 10 miles until he was able to get cell phone service and call for help. Dispatchers sent a medical helicopter upon receiving that call, but the teen was deceased when the helicopter arrived.

Deputies later learned the teen lost consciousness and collapsed about 50 yards from the troop's campsite once they began hiking out Saturday morning. Members of the troop began CPR but were unable to revive the teen.

Julian was flown to Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt, and from there his body will be taken to a medical examiner for an autopsy.

Curry said all indications are that Julian was a young and healthy teenager with no prior history of illness or medical problems. The press release notes the teen played high school sports.

"Investigators suspect he may have succumbed to altitude sickness," the press release states.

Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.