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Family of teen killed by tree files lawsuit against Boy Scouts

Elijah Knight was killed when a tree fell on his tent while he was at a Boy Scouts of America camp.
Elijah Knight was killed when a tree fell on his tent while he was at a Boy Scouts of America camp. (Stephen and Courtney Knight)

ATLANTA – The parents of a Boy Scout who was killed when a tree fell on his tent during a thunderstorm at the Bert Adams Scout Camp in Georgia have filed a lawsuit in an effort to improve safety standards.

Elijah Knight, 14, was killed when a tree fell on his tent during a thunderstorm at the camp in Covington, Georgia, on June 25, 2018.

Elijah's parents, Stephen Knight and Courtney Knight, live in Cypress and said they filed the lawsuit in order to improve safety standards for all Boy Scouts. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed Tuesday.

“Having joined the horrible club of parents who have lost a child, and especially the community of parents whose child died in a scouting event, we hope to make systemic safety improvements that will preserve and protect the lives of many other children in the future,” said Stephen Knight, an Eagle Scout. “We hope to see a new level of safety standards, so no other family has to go through the same anguish.”

The lawsuit, filed in the State Court of Cobb County against the Boy Scouts of America and the Atlanta Area Council, Inc. Boy Scouts of America, claims vicarious liability, negligence and premises liability. It seeks damages for funeral expenses and pain and suffering as well as punitive damages.

The lawsuit claims that the Boy Scouts of America "ignored weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service, including a Severe Thunderstorm Warning which was in effect at the time of Elijah’s death. Because the Boy Scouts did not evacuate all campers to a nearby building, Elijah Knight was left outdoors in a canvas tent during a hazardous storm with strong winds, lightning and hail."

“Sadly, this is not the first time a death has occurred at the Bert Adams Scout Camp,” said the family's attorney, citing the 1999 death of a Cobb County father and his son, as well as the 2017 death of a Cobb County teenager at the camp. “We believe the Boy Scouts do not have adequate policies in place to keep kids safe and that Elijah Knight’s tragic death could have been prevented by following simple weather-related procedures.”

Elijah earned the prestigious Spartan Mark of Excellence Award and Distinguished Achievement Award at Spillane Middle School in Cypress, where he was enrolled in the Horizons Gifted and Talented Program.

Elijah was focused on completing his Eagle Scout rank and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow. Elijah planned to become an environmental engineer, and his family said he was an avid inventor, award-winning saxophone player, cross-country runner and dedicated community volunteer.

“Elijah was kind, accepting, intelligent and vivacious,” Courtney Knight said. “He was inquisitive and inventive and intended to use these innate talents to improve the world.”