Eagle Scouts build Flight For Life trail
Chris Rohlf, 14, an aspiring Eagle Scout with Troop 188 in Silverthorne, has organized a project to build a Flight For Life Trail next to St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center.
On July 3, Flight For Life helicopter Lifeguard 2 crashed only seconds after taking off from the hospital. Pilot Patrick Mahany perished in the crash, while flight paramedic David Repsher suffered burns to 90 percent of his body and flight nurse Matt Bowe sustained internal injuries with permanent disabilities.
The helicopter was heading for the American Spirit of Adventure Boy Scout Camp near Gypsum when it wrecked into three vehicles in an employee parking lot and burst into flames.
Work began on Saturday to construct a 75-foot trail around a pond near the helicopter-landing pad. Plans were formed prior to the helicopter accident, but took on special significance after the accident. The path to becoming an Eagle Scout includes completing a leadership service project that will benefit a religious institution, school or community.
Chris Rohlf’s brother, Andy Rohlf, 18, who became an Eagle Scout two weeks ago, said originally his own service project would have created a recreation area at the hospital for kids with play tables. Although the idea never materialized he said the hospital maintained an interest in helping a would-be Eagle Scout.
Growing from tragedy
After Chris Rohlf received the go-ahead for the trail build this spring he headed out for summer camp.
“When I came back the crash had happened,” he said.
The project became especially poignant, Andy Rohlf explained, as the Flight For Life helicopter was heading out to participate in a wilderness first aid exercise at a Boy Scout camp in the vicinity of Gypsum.
“The helicopter was heading to the camp we were working at,” he shared. “They were going to land and show us the helicopter.”
The tragedy strengthened Chris Rohlf’s resolve to build the trail.
“It was a little bit hard, but it solidified with Chris that he wanted to do the project,” Andy Rohlf said.
Iowa resident Rich James, who owns a second home in Waterdance in Frisco, lent his labor to the effort.
“My wife saw it in the paper and said this looks like something you’d be interested in,” he said.
In addition to volunteering with the scout council in Iowa, James is also an Eagle Scout. He noted the lifetime skills that scout members develop by achieving Eagle status.
This sentiment was echoed by Andy Rohlf, who found the process improved his public speaking skills and writing ability.
“With leadership skills you get a lot done and can change the world a little bit,” he said.
In between swinging a pickaxe to break up the earth, Andy Rohlf smiled at the notion of helping his younger brother.
“He supported me on my Eagle project, so I’m here for him,” he said.
There is little doubt that Chris Rohlf is approaching the project seriously.
“I’ll be the youngest Eagle Scout in our troop’s history,” he said. “There is a responsibility that goes with that.”
The boy’s father, Darin Rohlf, who serves as scoutmaster for Troop 199, also works at St. Anthony’s in facility maintenance, security and also serves as the hospital chaplain. The outpouring of community support for the crash survivors and the family of Patrick Mahany illustrated a sense of community connectedness that Darin Rohlf finds memorable.
“You learn how much of a family we really are,” he said.
By the end of the weekend the scout troop aims to cover the trail with gravel and eventually two stone bridges, stairs and a picnic table will be installed. There are also plans to mount a plaque commemorating the fatal crash on a large rock by the pond.
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