Local Boy Scouts May Have Saved Leader's Life

A local Boy Scout leader is happy to be alive tonight, and he has his troop members to thank. The group was on a hiking trip in Colorado when things didn't go as planned and the scouts had to spring into action. Bill Stamps has their story.
That's the sound of a helicopter carrying 58-year old Don Leever off a mountainside to the hospital. Leever has been with the Boy Scouts virtually all his life, and as a scout master the past sixteen years, he's been teaching boys in Houston how to become men. They usually learn things that build character and help boost confidence. Those lessons continued last week when they nearly saved their scoutmaster's life.

"They did just exactly what you would want them to do."

A paramedic attends to Scout Master LeeverLeever thinks back to what happened and smiles, but he wasn't doing much smiling last week while the group was hiking in Durango, Colorado. Leever was sick for several days but kept plugging along. Fourteen-year-old A.J. Riddle and the rest of the group saw him get worse and worse.

"He was throwing up and he wasn't eating that much or drinking, he couldn't hold it down. He was starting to stumble a little bit going up the steep mountain."

Leever says at first the trip was going just fine.

"We fixed dinner, ate dinner, I was doing ok. Then the next day we had a shorter hike. I didn't feel as well the next day and had a harder time trying to eat. "

But by Thursday everyone knew something was seriously wrong with their scoutmaster. One of the adult chaperones told the boys they'd have to put together a home-made stretcher and carry him down the mountain. This is troop member Tommy Wilkinson.

"We thought we were going to have to carry him all the way out so about 8 miles."

A view of the makeshift stretcher constructed by the scoutsThe boys made a stretcher and carried their leader a considerable distance before they spotted a ranger. The ranger radio for help and the helicopter eventually carried Leever off to the hospital. It turns out Leever's blood sugar level was sky high. Doctors told him the boys may have saved his life.

"They got some lifelong skills out of this. I wish they didn't have to remember it the rest of their life but they probably will. It's not necessarily my proudest moment that I had to be flown out on a helicopter, but yet I'm glad they knew what to do and they got me to where I could get some help."

Now back in Houston, the entire group watched the video of their leader being flown off to safety. A.J. Riddle says they got a real life lesson in taking control and doing what you have to do. And that's what the Boy Scouts are all about.

"It was a great experience and we learned how to act and how to react to a serious situation. We've been taught everything and put it to use."

And despite their rough experience, the scouts say they're ready to head back up the mountain again. Bill Stamps - KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.