Alec Lansing, a 17-year-old, went missing during a wilderness therapy camp and met a tragic end. It raises various queries about the safety and effectiveness of programs like the one he was part of, specifically Trails Carolina. There were multiple rumors and allegations about this program but this Trails Carolina Death turned into a really serious issue.
Who Was Alec Lansing?
Alec, at the age of 17, was last seen on November 10. He was part of a group expedition as part of a therapy program at Trails Carolina. This wilderness therapy facility is in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina. Alec’s life had its ups and downs, but his journey into the vast Nantahala National Forest changed everything.
What Happened To Alec?
He went into the wilderness to seek personal growth and recovery. Trails Carolina is known for its wilderness therapy programs for at-risk youth and those dealing with mental, behavioral, or substance abuse issues. Their goal is to build emotional strength through an immersive outdoor experience. Unfortunately, Alec’s journey took a tragic turn.
When he went missing, a massive search began. Multiple state agencies and volunteers, including state officials practicing cold weather exercises nearby, joined the effort. The vast search area and the rugged terrain made it very hard to find Alec. They brought in a helicopter, but the thick tree cover made things difficult. A Trails Carolina counselor was taking care of Alec when he disappeared. The counselor saw him walk away from the group. They conducted a thorough search for Alec, but he remained missing for nearly two weeks. Finally, search teams found Alec’s body in a stream. Investigators believe he climbed a tree and fell into the stream, breaking his hip. Sadly, hypothermia, combined with the icy waters, took his life.
Pathologist William Selby conducted an autopsy on Alec’s body. The autopsy showed that Alec’s death was due to hypothermia. Adding to the tragedy, Alec had a broken hip before his death. When investigators found his body, they noticed moss removed from a tree above the stream. The autopsy findings highlight the difficult conditions Alec faced in the wilderness. On the days he disappeared, the temperatures were low, ranging from 40 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures are cold enough to cause hypothermia, which can be life-threatening, especially when combined with a broken hip. Falling into the stream made the situation even worse, as the human body loses heat 25 times faster in water than in the open air. It’s unclear how long Alec was in the water.
Allegations and Criticism
A bad thing happened with Alec Lansing, and it’s not the only problem with the Trails Carolina program. This program, like many others in the United States, has faced serious criticism and accusations about how it operates. In 2021, the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper did an investigation and made these concerns public. The investigation found some troubling things, like people being physically held down, spoken to in hurtful ways, and made to feel very upset. People from this program, parents, and even staff members spoke up about what they went through. Their stories show that some not-so-good things were happening in the program.
Oregon Department of Human Services Inquiry
In 2022, the Oregon Department of Human Services looked into Trails Carolina because a teenager from Oregon from the program raised some complaints. The investigation found that the program didn’t meet the basic standards for taking care of these young people. This made people even more worried about how the program works. Some people have questioned the methods they use, like tough love and trying to change the kids a lot. The wilderness therapy industry doesn’t have strict rules and checks, so programs like Trails Carolina can operate without close examination. This raises real concerns about the safety and well-being of the young people.
Response from Them
In response to these allegations, Trails Carolina has claimed that it maintained every rule of safety and well-being of its participants. They state that they have made changes and improvements to their program based on feedback and concerns from former participants and their families. However, many critics argue that more than these responses are needed, and there needs more changes to ensure the program’s safety and effectiveness.
Seeking Accountability and Safety
Alec Lansing’s sad passing shows us wilderness therapy programs involve risks, especially when they aren’t well-monitored and held accountable. Even though they’ve tried to fix some problems, the accusations remind us that we need more rules and supervision. If parents or guardians are thinking about sending their kids to a wilderness therapy program, they should be really careful and do a lot of research. We’ll have to see if things change in the industry as the investigations into Trails Carolina keep going. Trails Carolina death serves as a sad reminder of the urgent need for reform and accountability in the world of wilderness therapy.
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