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Boy Scout Leader Dies on Father's Day Hike With Troop, Two Sons

by Kathryn Robinson /  / Updated 

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A Maryland Boy Scout leader died of an apparent heart attack while on the trail with his troop, that included his two sons, on Father's Day, authorities say.

Vernon "Rick" Rippeon, of Westminster, Md., was among three adults leading the 13-member Maryland troop on a presidential mountain hike in New Hampshire's White Mountains, said Captain John Wimsatt of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. The boys ranged in age from about 11 to 17, The Associated Press reported.

A call came in around 11:45 a.m. Sunday from the Crawford Path in Bean's Purchase, the oldest continuously maintained footpath in the United States, that Rippeon had suffered a heart attack about 1½ miles into the trail at the beginning of a planned five-day trip, Capt. Wimsatt said.

Rippeon's younger son, 11 or 12-year-old Patrick, was with him on the trail when he collapsed. Another scout leader and an Appalachian Mountain Club personnel were right behind Rippeon and began performing CPR almost immediately but were not successful and Rippeon died on the trail, authorities say.

"It starts to gain elevation quite quickly," Lt. Wayne Saunders of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department told the AP. "It's one of those odd things. There wasn't any rhyme or reason to it, and it was fairly quickly," Saunders said. "He just sat down on a rock and collapsed."

Gunner Burdt, scoutmaster of Troop 735 of Gamber, just outside of Baltimore, told the AP that the hike was planned by Rippeon as a "high-adventure" outdoors trip in scouting, where "you go do something that's going to push your limits and tests your will."

Burdt told the AP, Rippeon, an avid hiker, chose the White Mountains after visiting the area before with his older son, 17-year-old Ryan, about six years earlier.

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