Boy killed by lightning 'lived to be a Boy Scout'
Her 12-year-old son David Rayborn was so excited to head out for a weeklong Boy Scout camp for the first time that Connie Rayborn didn't have a chance to say goodbye.
"That hurts," Connie Rayborn said.
Three days into the camp at Scofield Reservoir on July 13, David was struck by lightning and killed when a sudden thunderstorm moved into the area.
"I still can't believe it. I keep waiting for him to come home," Connie Rayborn said.
David was among a group of Scouts returning to shelter when the storm moved in. He and fellow Scout friend and neighbor Sean Smith, also 12, were at the back of the group when the lightning struck. Sean told his parents that he and David were standing and looking at the lighting and started running up the hill to their campsite once hail started falling.
Sean was struck, too, and knocked unconscious. The Rayborns said when Sean woke up, there was no one around and his friend David was lying on the ground. Sean said he shook his friend to wake him up before he ran to get help.
Sean didn't realize he had been struck and was taken to a hospital after he started to feel sick and noticed a rash-like burn on his body.
David's family said they are thankful for Sean's bravery. The two boys were inseparable friends, and David had convinced Sean to join the Scouts with him. Monday, Sean said he was feeling better but missed his friend.
The Rayborns expressed frustration with the miscommunication after the accident. They had to wait 32 hours before they saw their son.
"It was excruciating," Connie Rayborn said. "The hardest thing for me was, all I knew was that he was struck by lighting. I didn't know where. I didn't know if he laid there suffering, scared. Nobody could answer that for me."
It wasn't until she saw David's body the lightning had hit his chest that she knew he had died instantly.
But the Rayborns still don't understand why they had to wait so long to see their son.
"I was angry ... . It's part of mourning," John Rayborn, David's dad, said. "I am not angry at the Boy Scouts. I am not angry at no particular person. I am angry at the fact that my son has passed."
John Gailey, director for the Scouts' Utah National Parks Council, said Scouting officials called the parents immediately but once medical personnel took charge of the scene, Scouting staff were not given access to further information.
The parents plan on writing a letter to the Scouts, giving suggestions so David's tragedy isn't repeated. Both the Rayborns and Sean's parents said the camp leaders need to tell Scouts what to do and where to go during a storm, so the boys know not to look at the lighting because it's "cool."
Betty Smith, Sean's mother, said her husband told the boys before leaving to lie on the ground if there were a storm and their hair stood up on end. But Sean said they noticed nothing unusual before the lighting struck.
"I am not mad. I am just saying let's be better prepared for the unimaginable," Betty Smith said.
Steven Royster, Scout executive, said part of the camp's policy is to review emergency procedures, including responding to hazardous weather, within the first 24 hours of arriving at camp. That was done during this camp, staff said.
He added staff will continue to review the incident.
On Monday, the Rayborns got ready for David's viewing. They planned to wear something pink in honor of the boy's favorite color.
Smiling and wiping away tears, Connie Rayborn described her son as a talker, who loved to help people. A perfect example, she said, was that David was always late coming home from school because there was someone to help first on the way.
David was the oldest of four boys. His parents said he wanted to be a chef when he grew up. He liked playing the viola, building with Legos and being a Boy Scout. He was working on badges for skills such as using a compass and orienting with a map.
"He loved it. He lived to be a Boy Scout," Connie Rayborn said. "Everything was Scout, camping, fishing and hunting."
During his funeral Tuesday, David will be given the Spirit of the Eagle honoree award. Boy Scouts in full uniform will line up for the funeral procession from Granite Park Stake Center to Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
"I think he would have loved it," Connie Rayborn said. "He is going to see and he is going to be, 'Yeah! That's cool.' "
The family has opened an account for donations at the Utah First Credit Union under the name Connie Rayborn #10 for David.
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