Child Dies, Police Report “Suspicious” Investigation

Within a day of his arrival, a 12-year-old boy passed away at a wilderness therapy camp in North Carolina. Authorities suspect foul play due to the camp’s lack of full cooperation with the investigation. While the coroner hasn’t disclosed an official cause of death, they did mention that natural causes were unlikely.

The Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office posted a press release on Facebook on February 7 outlining the available information. According to the release, a 12-year-old boy was brought to the camp by two individuals on February 2, as instructed by his parents. Upon arrival, camp staff assigned him to a cabin. The next morning at 8:10 a.m., a call was made to 911 from the camp reporting that the boy was unresponsive.

At the scene, emergency personnel discovered a CPR mask and made efforts to resuscitate the child, but ceased upon realizing he had already been deceased for some time. Deputies commenced the examination of the area for potential evidence at approximately 9 a.m. Subsequently, they conveyed the body to a nearby hospital for an initial evaluation by a medical examiner. Given the suspicious nature of the incident, investigators opted to have the body transferred to Winston-Salem for a thorough autopsy, which took place on February 6.

Trails Carolina, situated in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, has faced criticism previously. Kathleen Reilly, a former attendee who was 16 at the time, alleges that the conditions at the camp are exceedingly harsh, with children reportedly enduring weeks of living in tents without adequate access to basic hygiene facilities.

From 2010 to 2019, the camp accumulated more than 50 citations for various infractions. Among these incidents was the tragic death of a 17-year-old under its supervision in 2017, who succumbed to hypothermia while attempting to flee. Former staff member Jonathan Hyde revealed that he underwent only three days of training before being assigned to oversee a group of children, highlighting that many employees lack proper therapeutic credentials.




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