A River Valley Ranch Campground Tornado Kills One Child and Injures Nine Others


One child died while nine others were injured when a storm swept through River Valley Ranch on Tuesday night, killing one and wounding nine more. Children between 7 and 12 years of age, along with their counselors, were sheltering in a pavilion when it hit at 7 pm; they attempted to escape to a nearby lodge, but the tornado struck before they could do so.

Trees fall on campers.

Jon Bisset, director of River Valley Ranch summer camp where 12-year-old Michael Corley was crushed to death during a thunderstorm, says his staff did everything possible to warn children of impending danger and move them safely away. River Valley Ranch will review its procedures and make sure nothing like this occurs again.

Fujita’s survey group estimates the strength of the tornado that killed the boy as F3, while Fujita’s National Weather Service rating puts its intensity closer to F4. Fujita reported many trees being felled at his camp by it, along with several buildings being damaged or uprooted due to this twister.

At 65 mph when it hit, according to the meteorology service, the tornado moved east-southeast before uprooting and tossing several trees along its path, leaving behind a narrow path of destruction – some trees had even been “sheared off,” according to Cpl. Jon Light of Carroll County Sheriff’s Department for WTOP.

Parents of a camper say their son was at the facility for a weeklong camp session for children aged 7-12 and was engaged in an activity when tragedy struck.

Parents report that their other children were also at the camp in Manchester – at Arrowhead Woods and Fort Roller camps – however, most were picked up throughout the night and brought home Wednesday.

Camper dies

A 12-year-old boy was killed and six others injured when a large section of a tree collapsed at a Maryland summer camp, River Valley Ranch in Manchester Carroll County, during a storm on Tuesday evening. Although his identity hasn’t been released publicly yet, his parents indicate he attended this camp regularly.

The camp director reported that staff were aware of the inclement weather and took measures to move children away from their tents into shelter. Furthermore, procedures for dealing with severe weather have been reviewed at the camp, and state officials are currently assessing whether all rules were followed.

As it moved northwards, it reached F4 intensity as it passed through Prague. Soon after that, 14 farmsteads near the Eoontuohka community near Oklahoma State Highway 9 were destroyed or damaged before turning northeastward and crossing OK State Highway 9. Finally, entering the Murray Spur area east of Spiro, where it continued at F4 intensity for most of its path.

A tornado also touched down near Enid in Perry Acres housing development and caused significant damage to homes, trailer parks, and some business structures, as well as extensive damage to a million-dollar refinery and mobile home destruction. It dissipated at 6:48 p.m.

Camper injured

Parents gathered Wednesday evening at Camp Toller to see their children, talk with counselors and directors, and pray. Campers reported how what had seemed like an ordinary moment was quickly transformed into chaos as counselors noticed signs of impending nasty weather approaching.

Staff escorted children aged 7-12 from Fort Roller to a building approximately 150 yards away. As they followed a wooded path toward their destination, trees had fallen, and large branches littered the path ahead.

As soon as the children arrived at the shelter, they were quickly welcomed inside and seated. As the storm passed over them, however, relaxation returned when it started raining again – until rain suddenly intensified into a torrent. At that momentary juncture, a 12-year-old Maryland boy was tragically struck down by a falling tree and killed instantly.

Camp officials reported little warning of an oncoming storm and attempted to move their charges as quickly as possible before it struck. They promised to review emergency plans following this death and conduct an investigation of what transpired; the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s director has stated they will perform such an inquiry. WBAL News has learned the child attended River Valley Ranch before with no reports against it from previous attendance or complaints being filed against it.

Camper hospitalized

Over 100 campers aged 7-12 were playing in an outdoor pavilion when a severe thunderstorm quickly moved in on Tuesday evening. Counselors assisted the children along a wooded path towards a lodge that they could use as shelter, but by then, the tornado had already started picking up speed.

A 12-year-old boy died, and eight others were injured when the camp trees collapsed as they sought safety, according to Pikesville Mayor Robert McCulloch’s comments to 11 News. His family stated their sorrow over their loss. Pikesville Mayor McCulloch said: “This was just a tragic situation.”

At Garrett’s Lake Road (38800 block), two double-wide mobile homes were destroyed while another was heavily damaged – this section had F2 intensity. Moving northward, it hit Olive, where trailer park destruction occurred before traveling northeasterly and damaging Pier 51 at Lake Keystone (where several frame homes and a mobile home park were also destroyed) before shifting more north-northeasterly and producing damage at multiple brick homes west of Sperry before dissipating near Skiatook.

An official from the American Camp Association reports there was virtually no warning, and camp staff responded as quickly as they could to protect campers. She indicates the camp would review its emergency procedures to make sure something similar does not reoccur.