September 20, 2000

Charge in Wilderness School Death
The Associated Press

LAKEVIEW, Ore. (AP) - A counselor at a wilderness school for troubled youth has been charged in the death of a student who apparently stopped breathing when the counselor sat on him to restrain him, authorities said Wednesday.

Charles Matthew Sharp, 22, was arrested Monday and charged with criminally negligent homicide.

``There is a potential for more serious charges and potentially more people may be charged,'' said Lake County District Attorney David Schutt.

William H. ``Eddie'' Lee, 15, died Monday. Autopsy results were not immediately available.

The district attorney gave this account of the evening's events:

Lee had been camping in a remote area for 10 days with a small group from Obsidian Trails Outdoor School. On Monday, Lee became defiant and disruptive, though not violent, and Sharp and a female counselor forced him to the ground.

Lee's face was in the dirt and Sharp was on top of him while the female counselor held his arm. A second female counselor noticed what was happening and ran over to hold a leg.

After struggling for 5 to 15 minutes, Lee went limp and the counselors noticed he wasn't breathing.

One of the women attempted CPR and the other used a cell phone to call 911.

``The account from the girl who started CPR was that she had to get mud out of his nose and mouth,'' Schutt said. ``He was in soft, pumicy dust. He was slobbering, which turned that stuff to mud.''

Gregory Bodenhamer, the school's director, said he was confident Sharp would be vindicated. He said Sharp and all field instructors were trained in first-aid and restraining uncooperative youth.

``What happened does not make sense to me. I don't know how doing what they did would have caused Eddie's death,'' Bodenhamer said. ``We are very upset with what happened. We are very concerned with Eddie's family.''

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management revoked Obsidian Trails' permit to operate in the district. It was one of four wilderness schools for troubled youth operating there.

The bureau had told Obsidian Trails to improve security after two students ran away from camp last December and held a rancher and his wife at knifepoint before stealing their car.

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