(The following account was submitted by Gina Hedges, Committee Chair of Boy Scout Troop 32. All the people mentioned contributed to the account, according to Scout Master Nick Hedges.–Ed.)
ELIZAVILLE–This past week, July 29 to August 4, the boys and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 32, Elizaville, went camping at the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania. During their trip they did the regular scout stuff like camping, hiking, swimming and tubing. On Thursday, August 2, four scouts–Jerimiah Burdick, star scout; Khial Forges Jr., life scout; Nick Hedges, life scout; and Zach Pruner, first class–along with their assistant scout master (ASM), Norm Brousseau, went tubing down the Delaware. Prior to leaving all boys their ASM and their scout master, Art Hedges, discussed their action plan in case something occurred while they were on the river.
They began their two-hour jaunt . Approximately 20 minutes into the trip the boys saw their ASM flailing in the water. At first they thought he was fooling around, then they heard screams. He yelled for help and more splashing. They turned around and saw a beaver jump out of the water. They knew it was for real.
The boys swam three to four feet towards Norm to help. He was bitten seven times on the back, chest, buttocks, arm, leg and hand. He had the beaver by the bottom jaw and held on to prevent more bites or bites to the boys. Zach swam to shore and Nick and Khial got Norm into shore. As they got closer Zach helped pulling them in. The beaver was partially on shore and partially in the water Khialthrew a big rock at the beaver. All the boys stoned the animal until it was dead. Nick put it up on shore by its tail.
They could see some canoeists down the river. Khial and Jerimiah headed towards them while Nick and Zach stayed with their leader Norm. Khial yelled they needed help. A woman said she had a cell phone and would call 911. At the same time a pair of canoeists were coming past the others. The boys flagged them down. The women got out of the canoe so the man could bring Norm across to the other side where they needed to be. He came back and the women got back in and they stayed with the boys until they swam across. They started to walk to get to a road. Although Norm had many bites, he was able to walk with the boys. They knew they had several miles to make it to the pickup point where the scoutmaster would be.
They could hear traffic but they couldn’t climb out because the embankment was about 12 feet straight up. Khial used a tree to climb up the embankment and could see a field of weeds and corn. They knew they had driven past the corn field on their way there. They continued to walk in just their bathing suits with no shoes through weeds, thickets and poison ivy. They knew if they got to the corn field they could walk in the corn row. The found tire tracks in the corn field and followed them.
They came to a road they flagged down a car and had them go to the point where the scoutmaster was suppose to be waiting for them. They knew it was suppose to take two hours, so Art hedges scoutmaster was not there yet. They also had someone go to the campground to look for him and someone call the park rangers again. As they continued to walk a Park Service employee pulled over. She assessed Norm and the boys and called for more help. Reports were taken and the National Park Service law enforcement was told where to find the beaver. They were transported to the launch. Art was informed of what transpired and was told to take Norm to the emergency room. Since Norm could not drive and Nick Hedges was the only one with a permit he was instructed to drive back with Norm.
Assistant Scout Master Norm Brousseau was treated at the hospital. The following day the results were back that the beaver was rabid. He then began his rabies shots and is now continuing with them back home in New York.