EAST LIVERPOOL - A group of students from Pennsylvania will have lots to write about after an adventure Friday that had them wandering around the wilderness of Beaver Creek State Park for hours.
The 23 students from Beaver Area elementary, middle and high schools came by school bus for a writing program and disembarked at a lookout parking lot near the top of the Vondergreen Trail, according to one of their teachers.
Student Angie Schrecengost said they started down the trail about 12:40 p.m., but they became disoriented while following the trail markers to the lookout depicted on an Internet map they had been following.
After several hours wandering in the woods of Beaver Creek State Park, students from a Beaver, Pa. school are led into the main park along the creek. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)
After they failed to return to the bus when expected, one of the teachers who had stayed behind with another teacher with an injured ankle decided to hike in and find them, but she too never found the lookout she expected to find and returned to the bus.
A teacher with the group sent Schrecengost back the way they came to find help, and she arrived back at the bus.
According to St. Clair Township police Chief Don Hyatt, firefighters from Calcutta and Glenmoor had the students call 911, which enabled them to digitally pinpoint their approximate location.
Then the students found signs directing them to Gretchen's Lock and to the Vondergreen Trail, and finally, firefighters were able to determine they were in the area of Ware Road and told them to stop there, turn around and come back along the creek toward the park, telling them not to cross the creek, due to high water.
However, due to some miscommunications because of poor radio connections in that area, it wasn't until about 4:30 p.m. that the students were actually found and headed in the direction of the main park.
By that time, their parents had been notified, and some arrived at the park to greet their children as they came down a path along the creek, muddy and bug-bitten, with a few scratches here and there but otherwise uninjured and with plenty of tales to write about their day.
One parent commended the emergency response personnel, saying some of the students will likely be writing about their actions.
Missy Koshute, who will be a junior in the coming year, seemed to speak for the group, saying, "I wasn't ever scared. I knew we'd get out of here somehow." She added, "I was just trying to keep all the little kids calm."
In addition to Calcutta and Glenmoor firefighters, township K-9 officers Chris Davis and Axel responded, although the canine was not activated. A state park officer was also on the scene, as was North Star Critical Care ambulance, although no injuries were reported.