Boy Scouts sued by grieving parents over hike that ended in death

Photo of Reid Comita© John Comita Jr. via Facebook Photo of Reid Comita

All of 15 years old, Reid Comita was a lover of the color orange, Chick-fil-A and his family dog. He’d been a member of the show choir and men’s chorus during his freshman year of high school. Soon he would start driving lessons.

In June, Comita hoped to pass one more coming-of-age milestone: becoming an Eagle Scout. To complete a final requirement, Comita opted for an “Intro to Backpacking” course, which included two days of training and a three-day backpacking trip under the blistering Texas summer skies, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Yet when his parents sent him off to the Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch in West Texas, they had no way of knowing their child would never return.

On June 12, Comita collapsed and died from heatstroke while on a hike on which his parents say he never should have embarked. In late August, Comita’s parents, John and Copper Comita, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Boy Scouts in Dallas County. Now they are speaking out.

“The Boy Scouts of America are responsible for my son’s death. It’s that simple,” John Comita recently told the local news channel WFAA.

Seated at a wooden table in their home, John and Copper Comita looked down at their son’s scout shirt, now mounted on a display board instead of on their child’s back.

Reid’s father, John, grew up participating in the Boy Scouts himself. He hoped his son’s experience would be build a bond between them, he said.

“I just miss him so much,” John told WFAA, breaking down in tears.

The suit was first reported by WFAA and subsequently covered in the Dallas Morning Newsand the Fort Worth Star Telegram, among other regional news outlets.

It alleges that Reid Comita did not sign up for the “extremely aggressive hike” on a day where temperatures neared 100 degrees, the newspapers reported. The hike was far too advanced for his level of physical fitness, the suit said.

Moreover, the suit alleges that the hike was improperly supervised. Two adults are required by Boy Scouts safety rules. Reid Comita, they claim, was sent out with only one 18-year-old leader and a 14-year-old boy.

The Comita family told WFAA that their son’s local Boy Scout troop has been very supportive, yet they had yet to hear from the national organization. A statement from the Boy Scouts sent to WFAA said the group would “keep the family in our thoughts and prayers.”

“The health and safety of our youth members is of paramount importance to the BSA, and integral to everything we do,” the statement read. “We strive to create a safe environment for youth to experience outdoor adventure.”

In June, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that after Comita succumbed to the heat, no ambulance could immediately reach him. Once paramedics arrived, they performed CPR on the boy for over an hour, according to a Facebook post by John Comita announcing his son’s death.

“Pray for my family for strength and remember Reid as a loving caring young man,” the post read. “He hated no one and saw the best on everyone. A smart loving young man gone too early with so much to offer.”

The lawsuit further alleges that the Comitas weren’t notified of Reid’s death for more than four hours as they frantically tried to gather information about their son.

“We were calling, and no one could give us a straight answer as to how he was,” Copper Comita told WFAA.

Reid Comita’s Eagle Scout project was to build a playhouse and landscape area for a local home for women and children in crisis, reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. After his death, members of the North Texas scouting community planned to complete the project in his honor.

Reid Comita’s rank of Eagle Scout was awarded posthumously.

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