Elizabeth Burns, a 16-year old girl from Lake Forest, died in a camping accident in Teton County Wyoming while camping with Wilderness Ventures, a Wyoming-based backpacking company.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Burns died after a 75-foot tree fell on her. Burns was reportedly setting up camp with other campers 66 feet away from the base of the dead tree when the accident happened. Other campers apparently attempted to hang a bear bag in the tree when the tree fell over and struck Burns.
Burns was the only person in the group of 14 seriously injured in the accident. The group included twelve 16-year olds and two adult leaders, reports the Sun-Times.
The Teton County sheriff's department is treating Burns' death as an accidental death. But as officials continue to look into the accident, Wilderness Ventures may want to pay special attention.
As a commercial venture, proclaimed to be the "worldwide leader in student outdoor adventures" on its website, Wilderness Ventures bears some responsibility in ensuring the safety of students under its care.
Customers are presumably attracted to Wilderness Ventures because the company offers the knowledge and skill in outdoor activities like camping that urban dwellers may not necessarily know. By offering these activities, Wilderness Ventures may be liable if their lack of knowledge or negligence in camping activities led to an accident or death.
So Wilderness Ventures may be liable in a civil lawsuit if it is determined that negligence in choosing a campsite, hanging a bear bag in a dead tree, or general failure to supervise the campers played a role in the tragic camping accident that killed Elizabeth Burns.