Three teenage boys are in hospital after a severe thunderstorm tore through a campground Friday near Bottrel, Alta., northwest of Calgary.
According to EMS, the call came in at 4:45 p.m. when the three teens were in their tent at the campground before becoming pinned by a tree downed in the storm.
Botterl Campground manager Tim Needham was in his home during the storm until his daughter alerted him that trees in the tent area had fallen.
“The one boy had gotten out and made itself over to a trailer. The other two boys were stuck under the tent.
“We cut the one boy out and he was suffering some kind of collarbone injury. While I was taking them over to an air mattress to get him comfortable, my daughter realized there was somebody else under a tree branch, inside of the tent still.
“He was face down and unresponsive and the branch was under a great deal of pressure. My daughter and I managed to break it off of him, get it off him. As soon as we did that, I could see colour coming back into his face and he took a deep breath. Then when he exhaled, it didn’t sound good. He was really moaning.”
Needham and other campers waited with the teens, trying to comfort them until four ambulances arrived and transported the teens to Calgary.
One of the teens suffered serious injuries and was transported to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary in stable condition, EMS public education officer Adam Loria said. The other two teens were taken to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in stable condition with minor injuries.
The park has been open to campers since 1889, and Needham has managed the site for the past 17 years. The campground has seen flooding for 16 of those years.
“It took out 75-foot trees that were quite healthy and it didn’t bend them over — it cut them off 30 feet off the ground. That’s what happened to the boys in the tent: a tree 30 feet up got cut off and landed on them in their tent while they’re inside.”
The storm felled trees along a road leading to nearby residences, knocking out power, FortisAlberta confirmed to Global News. Utility crews worked Saturday to replace a power pole and reconnect the power.
Neighbours turned out Saturday morning with chainsaws and trucks to help clear the road of the debris.
The timeline for the campground cleanup is undetermined because the tenting side is in a valley, between a road and a creek, and a single pedestrian bridge is the only way to get to the affected area. Needham said the tenting area will be closed until further notice.
Needham explained that 2020 has been the busiest year on record, crediting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday’s storm prompted Environment Canada to issue a severe thunderstorm warning for the Bottrel area as well as Calgary.
Environment Canada meteorologists said the thunderstorm was slow-moving from west to east, bringing with it strong wind gusts, heavy rain and hail.
Saturday, Environment Canada told Global News they were investigating the wind incident at Botterl.
– With files from Adam MacVicar and Jodi Hughes, Global News