The 45-foot high, 3-foot wide tree suddenly came crashing down on Isabelle Meyer and three others while they were returning from a hike this week

By Hilary Shenfeld and Joelle Goldstein
June 25, 2019 10:59 PM
Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald via AP

An 11-year-old camper was killed in what authorities are calling a “freak of nature” accident after a large tree fell on her during a Girl Scout outing at an Indiana campground.

Isabelle Meyer of Jasper, Indiana, died on Monday after suffering head and torso injuries at Camp Koch, a 500-acre, heavily wooded campground operated by the Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana near Cannelton, Perry County Sheriff Alan Malone tells PEOPLE.

Though Meyer was with three other people at the time of the tragedy, she was sadly the only one to suffer fatal injuries. The others, luckily, were unharmed, according to Malone.

“How that tree fell at that time, it’s just a freak of nature,” Malone says, noting that it had been raining heavily for a week but there were no active wind or storm warnings or known lightning strikes.

The incident occurred around 11:30 a.m., as Meyer, a 10-year-old girl from Boonville and two women in their 50s, were walking down a steep, muddy, gravel path, headed for the mess hall.

The four had been in a group out for a hike and had walked up a hilly trail bordered by vast woodlands before heading back down around lunchtime, Malone says.

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“They were behind everyone else and the rest of the girls were ahead of them,” he explains. “It was raining so hard…the ground is very wet.”

As the group walked down the steep incline, the large tree — described by Malone as 45-feet high with a 3-foot wide — suddenly came crashing down, pinning all four females underneath its massive trunk and branches for approximately 10 minutes until help arrived.

Rescuers were able to quickly pull the victims out from under the tree and immediately transport them to hospitals, but it was sadly too late for Isabelle, who died from her severe injuries, according to Malone.

The other young girl suffered possible broken bones in her hand but was released from the hospital. The two adult women, meanwhile, were both still hospitalized and in stable condition as of Tuesday, Malone says.

As to what caused the tree to fall, Malone tells PEOPLE, “We’ll never know.”

“The Girl Scouts go there to have fun and get their badges,” he adds of the heartbreaking incident. “For something like this to happen to good people, it’s very tragic.”

Camp Koch, which has been in operation since 1942, is now closed as the Girl Scouts and law enforcement continue to investigate the incident, according to a statement from the organization.

“There is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls and volunteers,” Sydney Hoffman, communications coordinator for Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana, said. “Right now we are in mourning, and we are coming together to care for our Girl Scout family.”