Cub Scout, 9-years-old, dies after fall during hike
BY TONY GRAF AND CINDY WOJDYLA CAIN Sun-Times Media May 21, 2012 11:32AM
Tony DiTola, his wife, Mandy, and their two boys, Devin (yellow hat) and Aiden (orange hat), part of Lockport Cub Scout Pack 61, after the 2008 Memorial Day Day Parade.
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:12AM
Aiden DiTola was only a 9-year-old Cub Scout, but his Cubmaster said he could tell the young man had what it takes to reach Scouting’s pinnacle.
“You can tell which boys have the character to become an Eagle Scout. He exuded that character,” said Bill Martin, Cubmaster of Pack 61.
The Lockport boy was taking part in his beloved Scouting when he was fatally injured over the weekend in what authorities say was a tragic accident.
Aiden was on a Scouting camping weekend at Perry Farm in Bradley when he fell about 15 feet and struck his head on a rock as he dropped to the bottom of a ravine near the Indian Caves area of Perry Farm, Kankakee County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ken McCabe said.
He was hiking with fellow Scouts from Troop 50 in Lockport when he lost his footing, slipped and fell, McCabe said.
His father, Tony DiTola, said 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.
Aiden was airlifted to Advocate 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.
Perry Farm features 170 acres of natural prairie, woods and canyons, according to its website.
Bourbonnais Fire Protection District Chief Ed St. Louis said about 400 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts were camping there over the weekend as part of Pause for Patriotism, an event designed to celebrate Armed Forces Day.
DiTola said Aiden was really looking forward to the trip.
“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.
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 there, a LifeStar helicopter was on the scene.
Martin on Monday called Aiden a “wonderful young man” from a wonderful family.
“He never seemed to be in a bad mood. Always having fun,” he said.
Aiden was also a compassionate person who believed in helping others. If a Scout needed anything — even just a friend — Aiden was there, Martin said.
“Our Pack 61 family is just heartbroken right now,” Martin said. “It’s a difficult day, but we’re all there for the DiTola family.”
Aiden attended Ludwig School, where officials were notified of his death over the weekend, and social workers were present Monday.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the DiTolas,” Principal Carol Koch said. “Aiden was a wonderful child, and he will be missed.”