Cub Scout dies as result of fall
By Tony Graf and Cindy Wojdyla Cain Staff Writers May 21, 2012 9:56AM
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:58PM
BRADLEY — Aiden DiTola, 9, of Homer Township, died Sunday after he fell down a ravine on Saturday during a Scouting camping weekend at Perry Farm in Bradley, Kankakee County sheriff’s police said.
Aiden, of the 16700 block of McKenzie Avenue, fell about 15 feet and struck his head on a rock as he fell to the bottom of a ravine near the Indian Caves area of Perry Farm, said Chief Deputy Ken McCabe.
He was hiking with fellow Scouts from Troop 50 in Lockport when he lost his footing and slipped and fell, McCabe said. Aiden was a member of Cub Scout Pack 61, and was not on an outing with that pack, said Bill Martin, Cubmaster of Pack 61.
Aiden was airlifted to Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn where he was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. Sunday, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Tony DiTola, Aiden’s father, remembered his son on Monday night.
“Aiden was a fun loving kid. He tried to be everyone’s friend. He loved animals and had numerous pets over the years. He would go out of his way to help anyone, whether they needed it or not,” the father said.
According to Bourbonnais Fire Protection District Chief Ed St. Louis, about 400 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts were camping at Perry Farm over the weekend as part of Pause for Patriotism, an event designed to celebrate Armed Forces Day.
Firefighters could tell Aiden’s head injury was “pretty significant,” so they placed him in a basket and floated him to the top of the ravine. By the time he got to the top of the ravine, a LifeStar helicopter was on the scene.
Tony DiTola said: “Aiden was really looking forward to this campout. He was excited to see the re-enactors and their gear. I took his older brother to this campout last year when I didn’t have a clue what it was. Aiden was disappointed that he missed it then and was constantly asking if we could go back this year. He was having fun all day with all the military and fire personnel demonstrating their skills.”
“He died having fun. If only all of us were as lucky,” the father said.
Martin shared positive memories of Aiden on Monday.
“A wonderful family and a wonderful young man,” Martin said. “He never seemed to be in a bad mood. Always having fun.”
Aiden also was a compassionate person who believed in helping others. If a Scout needed anything — even just a friend — Aiden was there, Martin said.
Aiden would have graduated from Cub Scouts this coming Feburary. Martin believes the young man would have gone on to become a Boy Scout and eventually an Eagle Scout.
“You can tell which boys have the character to become an Eagle Scout. He exuded that character,” Martin said.
Bill and Teresa Martin have two sons who are roughly the same age as Aiden and his older brother. Teresa is committee chair for Pack 61, and also is principal of Walsh School, where Aiden attended kindergarten and first grade. The Martin and DiTola families have been active in Scouting for the better part of the last decade. And Aiden’s parents, Tony and Mandy DiTola, have been excellent Scout leaders, Bill said.
“You just develop a relationship with families in Scouting. It’s a brotherhood,” he said.
“Our Pack 61 family is just heartbroken right now,” Bill said. “It’s a difficult day, but we’re all there for the DiTola family.”
Ludwig School, where Aiden attended, had resources available for students and staff affected by the tragedy.
The school was notified of the incident over the weekend, said Principal Carol Koch. The principal met with staff members and gave them a statement to read. District social workers were assigned to the school, and were a visible presence on Monday, Koch said.
“We were there for staff and students all day and will continue this support for as long as we need to,” Koch said.
The school sent a letter home to parents explaining the situation, and also referred parents to resources where they could find help.
The school also provided an opportunity for classmates to reminisce about their experiences with Aiden.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the DiTolas,” Koch said. “Aiden was a wonderful child, and he will be missed.”
Prairie and woods
Perry Farm is a park that has 170 acres of natural prairie, woods and canyons, according to the park’s website.
St. Louis said there aren’t too many calls from Perry Farm because the Indian Caves area of the park is in a remote area.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people just walk the trails,” he said.