Motorcyclist killed by tree cut down by boy scouts who were away from group

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GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah — A man from Colorado was killed while driving a motorcycle on State Route 12 in Utah Saturday when he collided with a falling tree that was felled by a group of Boy Scouts, and on Monday more details relating to the crash emerged.

Allen Endicott, Scout Executive with the Trapper Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America, issued a statement Sunday regarding the incident, which police have described as a case of “unfortunate timing.”

The statement provided by Endicott is reproduced in its entirety below:

“According to all available reports, yesterday’s events were a tragic accident. In Scouting we strive to make every effort to provide a safe environment for all that are involved, both Scouts, leaders, and the public.

As a council, our hearts go out to the family of the person who tragically lost his life in this terrible accident. We express our sincerest condolences to his family and friends. We are also mindful of the Scouts, leaders, and families of this troop at this time and the impact yesterday’s events had on them. As a Scouting community we invite everyone to remember all who were involved in their thoughts and prayers.”

The man was identified by officials Sunday as Edgar E. Rickie, 69, of Durango, Colorado.

Joe Dougherty of the Utah Department of Public Safety said the man had no time to react.

“It probably happened in a matter of milliseconds,” Dougherty said. “Literally this man had no option; there was nothing he could do to avoid this tree falling.”

A press release issued Saturday by the Utah Department of Public Safety states the man, “was traveling north on state Route 12 in Garfield County when he crashed into a falling aspen tree. The tree had been felled by a group of Boy Scouts with a permit for cutting down trees for firewood.”

The press release also said the boys had a permit to cut down trees, and that they were under adult supervision.

“At this point we don’t know everything about where they were cutting down the trees,” he told FOX 13 News. “We know that two boys had stepped away from the main group that was cutting trees, and they were the ones that happened to fell this tree.”

The man was wearing a helmet. A passerby called 911, and a doctor who was with the Boy Scout group pronounced the man dead at the scene, according to the press release.

Dougherty said if charges connected to the case are filed, that decision would rest with the county attorney.

“Any kind of charges that could come from this, that’s something that UHP is consulting with the Garfield District Attorney’s Office and the Garfield Attorney is the one to bring charges if that were to happen, but at this point we just don’t know,” he said. “It appears to be a really unfortunate accident.”

No charges have yet been filed.

The crash occurred in an area officials said was about halfway between Boulder, which is in Garfield County, and Torrey,  which is in Wayne County. 


  • laytonian

    Oh, BS. The scouts were responsible for this. It was not “unfortunate timing”. They felled a tree ACROSS STATE HIGHWAY 12, a scenic highway with increasingly heavy traffic.
    I hope the Utah BSA and their lackadaisical leadership get sued for millions for killing this scientist. .

  • Sid

    I was in scouts and actually am an eagle scout. I grew up in Maine. Never have I heard so many screw ups with the scouts. I would seriously look at the leadership and what they are teaching these kids here in Utah. Otherwise they are just a gang if kids wreaking and taking things into their own hands if the leadership adults cannot control them. The Utah scouts make me ashamed of the scouts and I hope that something is seriously looked at here as the program is not working in Utah.

    • safetyfreak

      Did you look at all FOUR pictures? There is a picture of Highway 12, a popular and scenic highway that runs between Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. That is what the tree fell across it has a high speed limit and I am betting after hitting the tree the motorcycle went off the road.
      This was negligence, pure and simple. If boys can “slip” away then there is not enough supervision. Here in Utah Boy Scouts is often part of church attendance. Leaders are called and often not volunteers. This rarely happens in other states even in Mormon Scout troops. A serious examination of how the Scouting program is run here in Utah is in order beyond all the lawsuits and criminal charges that should occur.

  • Nicholas Carlson

    Call it an accident all you want. It was neglagence on the instructor’s part. The instructor should have made sure the tree was not going to fall on or even toward the road way in the first place. Proper tree cutting experience would have one knowing to check the area prior to falling a tree.

  • m

    This was not an accident. Two Scouts left the group had a saw in hand and cut down a tree that landed on the highway. I do wonder where the leader was and did he know the boys left? Charges should be filed against the leader for child endangerment for not properly supervising the boys and involuntary manslaughter for the boys. The was preventable, therefore this was NOT an accident..

  • Trish Ramirez

    Blah blah blah -the Utah Scout leaders are a bunch of small-minded children themselves. They are often ‘called’ by the very church they pontificate for and at least once a year we learn of am accident with grievous injuries,loss of life and even children missing for all eternity. Yet, inexplicably, this foundation is privately funded and continues to go on, the welfare and health of the children involved apparently being of very little consideration to those runni”
    |’\nag the fun and games. Indeed, if this tree had been so irresponsibly fallen by other licensed loggers, you could bet those little loggers would be facing some criminal charges. It’s time to stop making allowances for groups just because of their church affiliations and because we have always been too lenient with these kids. They cause more damage than they every repair. Teach them some skills, let them camp in their back yards, and stop pretending they do any real good for society. They don’t fill a need other than getting some of your dozens of unnecessary male children out of your hair for a while. Stop having so many dang kids.

  • Steve

    I feel so bad for this man and his family. This should not have happened. And in my opinion religion has no place within the Boy Scouts. And has ruined the program with their agenda.

  • Dav Nova

    police say it was unfortunate timing? well, please tell me, when is it a GOOD time to drop a tree on a public highway. I would love to know the answer.

  • Chris

    Why do they have to chop down the trees anyway? For firewood? I’ve never had to chop down any trees for firewood. Live green trees don’t usually make for good firewood. It was an unfortunate accident, the didn’t mean to kill anyone. They shouldn’t have been cutting down the trees but if they really needed too they needed to be more educated on the correct way to do it so it didn’t fall across the highway. This really was an unfortunate accident but I hope the scouts will now learn and maybe they will start teaching all of them how to do it correctly before letting them do it. It’s just sad a tragedy like this has to happen foranyone to notice it could be a problem. Maybe before handing out permits they should have to go to a class to learn to do it correctly.

    • Scout Tragedy

      They were cutting wood for firewood as an act of service for a newly widowed woman. Please be considerate and get the facts before you start judging.

      • Nan

        Maybe they should have gotten all the facts and been more considerate before they started felling trees, if they had a man would still be alive and his family would not be suffering an enormous loss now.
        I’m thinking Utah is not the best place to take my family for vacation since it is normal to issuer permits to fell trees anywhere including highways

  • Scout Tragedy

    IT WAS AN ACCIDENT. These scouts were all old enough to know what they were doing; it was not negligence. To all those assuming things from just the article alone: you weren’t there. You didn’t see how it happened. The tree was cut in the correct way to fall away from the road. However, (I am going to get so much hate for this comment) it fell the wrong way as an act of God. There is no way else to explain it. Everyone has their timing to return to where we came from and it was this man’s time. Please be considerate of how those scouts and their families are feeling right now. The leaders most definitely knew the boys were going across the road to cut down more trees. There was a rule that you have to cut within a certain distance of the road and that rule was followed. Accidents happen everywhere, even in Utah. Don’t be so quick to judge. Everyone at the scene is now feeling peace in their hearts because they know it was a tragic accident and there was nothing they could have done differently.

    • bob

      You can’t be serious.

      Lumberjacks are professionals, not just a bunch of guys with chain saws. Felling trees that close to a highway requires permits, flaggers, etc.

      “Old enough to know what they were doing”? Clearly not. There is no such thing as an “accident.”

      • Scout Tragedy

        They had permits and flaggers. My younger brother was one of the scouts and he is more mature that half the grown men I know. He also has taken classes and has his permit to cut trees. They did not intentionally go out that day to kill someone and you saying accidents don’t happen shows just how naïve you are. If I were you I would look inside and see what’s making you so unhappy that you have to be so inconsiderate.

    • Dav Nova

      Sry Charlie, not a chance in Vegas this was an accident.
      there are what… a hundred thousand acres of forest to kill trees in and they CHOSE to drop one on a highway??? yes, they were children, no they were not mature. and to say that GOD killed this biker is just more of the “not my fault” you religious people use to justify your actions/inactions.
      keep on praying to your false god(s). whichever one you pretend to follow.


    • Switchback

      The tree fell the wrong way meaning the wrong cutting technique was applied, incompetence and negligence. The tree was cut by inexperienced scouts and leaders too close to a road, negligence. You said that there were flaggers, negligence, they did not do their job. They were felling trees for firewood when there are downed trees everywhere in the pictures. Considering the experience of the cutters the leader was negligent. Unfortunately, this will get passed over because it was a Church scouting exercise. God bless the family of the fallen and may those responsible never forget what they have done.

    • Nan

      “Everyone at the scene is now feeling peace in their hearts because they know it was a tragic accident and there was nothing they could have done differently.”

      That they could have done nothing differently to avoid the senseless killing of another human being is ludicrous, how and where the tree was cut and stopping traffic on the highway are all things that could have been differently. That everyone involved in killing that poor man is at peace with their careless actions ,just blithely along with their lives as if they did nothing wrong because well God did it, is utterly despicable. These negligent, brainless cold and unfeeling people should be charged with homicide.

  • bob

    I hate to agree with Trish on anything, but when you sift through her bile-spitting hatred she brings up a valid point. Scout leaders usually do it because they really want to. (For various reasons….some of them unsavory.)

    In Utah, being a scout leader is a Church calling. And it’s based more on the person’s income and ability to provide expensive entertainment than anything else. Growing up, I have a REAL Scoutmaster for a while, but he eventually burned out on spending crazy money on it. HIS cabin. HIS snowmobiles. Etc. He took it very seriously. Knot-tying, and the whole works. Old school. But the parents just saw him as a glorified babysitter.

    Many (but not all) scout leaders, especially in Utah, are not in it for the right reasons, and simply don’t know what they’re doing.

    Sending young adolescent boys to chop down trees is insane. Teaching them how to do it RIGHT is an admirable thing, but that requires a leader with the necessary skills AND the desire to teach.

    These boys were doing something incredibly stupid, as you’d expect from boys that age, and doing it with no real training or supervision.

  • Roger

    First things first. I would like to express my sincere sympathy for all the families involved with this tragedy. I can’t imagine what they are going through. But I would like to just say that this troop decided to engage into a very dangerous project. But the fact is they decided to take on the liability of possibly injuring themselves or other people. Tragically they killed someone due to their actions. And it doesn’t matter if they “correctly” fell the tree or not they are liable for their actions and should be prosecuted.

  • Malcolm

    To the person posting under scout tragedy. It sounds like you were either on scene or have information about what happened. Could you please tell me if the scouts were using wedges and a tether rope tide to the tree when it fell or if they even had any of this equipment with them. Thx

  • Ken C

    Most likely they were trying to fell the tree in a different direction and weren’t experienced enough to judge.

  • John

    What kind of stupid leadership allows this to happen, why was there not anyone directing traffic? They are guilty of a murder trap. They should be held for negligent murder charges.

  • 2006 Eagle Scout

    This story still doesn’t add up. They cut a tree down for firewood, but there is dead wood all throughout this crime scene. Plus, am I the only person that knows green wood is bad firewood? The tree permit for firewood use sounds like garbage, and the unfortunate timing aspect sounds like garbage. Plus, there is almost no way two kids could walk off on their own and use either a chainsaw (due to sound) or a manual saw or hand ax (due to time) to cut a tree down without being noticed.

    • Scout Tragedy

      Did you even read the article? The scout leaders knew they were going across the way to cut more trees. They weren’t cutting wood to build a fire right then. They cut it so that the newly widowed woman would have extra wood until they could go up and help her out again

      • 2006 Eagle Scout

        Here is the reality of Utah scout troops: Inexperienced leaders. In my troop in Pennsylvania, every single leader had earned their Eagle and were properly trained to instruct scouts. The weren’t there because of a religious duty. What is the troop number? I really hope they get their charter pulled because killing someone due to either negligence or God’s will (like you previously stated) is still killing someone.

        As a eagle scout and motorcyclist, these leaders should be ashamed of themselves. I will be following this case and hope it sees criminal charges.

  • yukon67

    Having cut down a tree before, as I take breaks from sawing, I constantly check the fall zone. Am I lined up? How tall is this tree? Am I under-estimating? As a parent of a 13yo boy, and knowing how thoughtless and goofy they can be, it struck me as a sick possibility that these boys COULD have thought it would be funny to have the tree land in the road. Not all boy scouts are…..well…..Boy Scouts.

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