The parents of a Fort Worth teenager who died on a Boy Scouts backpacking trip in West Texas in June have sued the Irving-based scouting organization, alleging that a lack of supervision and safety training led to their son’s death.
Reid Comita, 15, collapsed and died of a heatstroke June 12 while on a hike at Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch in the Davis Mountains.
His family filed a lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America in Dallas County on Aug. 18.
“The Boy Scouts of America are responsible for my son’s death,” Reid’s father, John Comita, told WFAA in an interview this week. “It’s that simple. They are responsible.”
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In a statement Thursday, the Boy Scouts declined to comment on the lawsuit but said, “This remains a difficult time for our Scouting community, and we continue to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers.”
“The health and safety of our youth members are of paramount importance to the BSA, and integral to everything we do,” the statement said.
Reid, who had just completed the ninth grade at Keller Central High School, had gone on the backpacking trip to complete a requirement to become an Eagle Scout.
With his parents’ permission, he opted for the “Intro to Backpacking” course, which was supposed to include two days of training and then a three-day backpacking trip, the lawsuit says.
But instead of training, the lawsuit says, Reid, who “was not in top cardiovascular condition,” was “immediately sent on an extremely aggressive hike” on a 99-degree day. He was joined by two other teens — a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old.
The hike violated Boy Scouts rules, the lawsuit says, because at least two adults are required to lead hikes and all hikes must include at least four people.
Also, the lawsuit says, the camp director “was supposed to curtail” hiking when the temperatures were that high.
“Mr. and Mrs. Comita placed their son into the custody and protection of the [BSA], and instead they led him on a hike to his death,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit criticizes the Boy Scouts’ safety procedures, alleging that the organization has allowed local groups to “continue to operate even if they suffered from deficiencies with respect to training.”
The lawsuit calls the safety record “disturbing” and “plagued by incidents in which improper planning and unqualified leadership” have been been a problem.
Jim Orr, the Comita family’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Reid’s Eagle Scout project was to build a playhouse and landscape the area for The Gatehouse, a home for women and children in crisis in Grapevine.
Members of the North Texas scouting community planned to complete the project in Reid’s honor, and his troop later awarded him the Eagle Scout rank posthumously.
“His friends, his troop, have been great,” John Comita told WFAA. “But we haven’t heard from the BSA or organization at all.”