I certainly don't want to take anything away from these smart and brave Scouts or their leaders to whom many of us are indebted but there were a few inaccuracies in the story from my point of view.
I can't speak to the events that transpired at Trail camp but since the paper got quotes directly from Mr. Eslick who personally helped to old man with hypothermia, I assume that information is quite accurate. I also can't speak to any events that transpired below us (at Portal). Again, the story quoted Mr. Dearden who was an eye-witness and participated in those events and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of that account. Unfortunately, the paper apparently didn't speak to an eye-witness of the events that occurred in our emergency camp and instead had to rely on second-hand accounts.
Most people on the mountain hunkered down and quickly became soaked on the shelterless rocky terrain.
This is definitely not the case. While most of the day hikers I saw were caught without a rain poncho (mine was back at camp - dumb) and were definitely rain-soaked, most people got out of there as quickly as possible. I personally only saw two pairs of hikers who were "hunkered down." Both groups were above trail crest crouched under large rock outcroppings. I asked one group if they needed anything out of my first aid kit. They said they were fine and one of them just wanted to warm his hands. I also spoke with the other pair and they said they were fine and planning to ride the storm out and eventually continue to the summit. I don't know what ended up happening to any of these four individuals.
"We thought it was going to be a 15-minute storm, but it turned into a four-hour deluge," he said.
This is actually slightly understated from my point of view. I am guessing but I would estimate it rained off and on for approximately seven hours. The worst of it could have been described as four hours but it definitely rained longer than that where I was.
Dearden said roughly 30 people were stranded in that part of the mountain, most wearing only shorts and sneakers. Houghton stayed up the entire night helping hypothermic people into two-man tents with as many as six other people.
Mr. Dearden wasn't at our camp so he can only go based on the second-hand stories he heard. I spoke with him on the phone a couple of days ago. He is a very nice gentleman and I'm sure he tried to give the paper the very best information possible.
We had approximately 20 people at our emergency camp including Mark and myself. As far as I can recall, I was the only one wearing shorts and I didn't get hypothermia (probably because I was wearing a polar fleece jacket). I don't remember seeing any hikers wearing sneakers. We ended up with six tents of various sizes set up at this camp. Most of those tents had at least one victim. I can confirm Mark Houghton did stay up the entire night helping people. I know for sure because I was up all night helping him.
I don't know how much sleep the others got that night. It was a pretty uncomfortable situation for everyone.
A lightning strike hit only 10 yards away from the camp during the night, he said.
This may be dramatic retrospect on someone's part. I don't think Mr. Dearden made this up. I think he may have heard different stories from others and the facts simply got confused. There was a lot of close lightning but nothing struck that close to our camp while I was there and I was there when the first victims went into Mark & Reed's (the Scout he was with) tent.
The next morning, a rescue helicopter arrived near the top of the mountain to pick up the ailing 70-year-old
I spoke with the old man's son. I believe his son said he was actually 75. Not that this is material to the story. These guys saved his life. I don't doubt that at all.
That is about it. It is interesting to me whenever I read a story in the paper about something of which I happen to have intimate knowledge. Almost without fail, the story is inaccurate or flawed in some way. It just goes to show you should be very careful about believing everything you hear or read in the news.
All that aside, the core of the story is true and these Scouts can and should be proud of their actions which no doubt saved lives on the mountain that day. I will be forever grateful to Mark and Reed for the help they provided to my group. We were definitely in trouble and they were able and willing to help. Without a doubt, they are heros.