A fourth-grade field trip to a Minnesota park ended in tragedy yesterday, after the rain-soaked slope the nearly 50 students were hiking on gave way, killing at least one child. A search for a second buried child was halted overnight after a search dog was unable to detect the student's scent amid dangerous conditions. The Star Tribune reports that the search will resume this morning at Lilydale Regional Park, a popular St. Paul destination for fossil-seeking elementary school students.
The Peter Hobart Elementary School students fell about 30 feet when the mud, sand, and gravel path they were hiking on collapsed around 1:15pm, says a fire marshal. The rescue effort was hampered by the mudslide's location (about a quarter-mile off the road) and the conditions it brought with it: Rescuers found themselves waist-deep in mud, initially with only their hands to dig with; fears of a second collapse persisted throughout the day; and two firefighters were themselves injured. One child was rescued after 45 minutes; a second sustained an ankle injury, and both were taken to the hospital. Says the parent of a 9-year-old on the trip: "He said it sounded like a cannon. He saw a tree was falling down the cliff ... and he could hear his classmates in the lower area yelling and screaming."