Lightning Death Serves As A Reminder For Hikers To Be Prepared

Posted at 11:58 AM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 13:58:31-04

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    BOULDER COUNTY, CO (KCNC) — A Denver man, 36, was killed after being struck by lightning while hiking on Bear Peak Trail in Boulder County. His wife, 37, was injured by the ancillary electrical current from the strike that hit her husband. Their identities have not been released.

A passerby called 911 just before 1 p.m. Sunday, after seeing another hiker performing CPR on an unconscious man. His wife was injured, but alert. Rescue crews found the couple about a quarter mile up the Bear Peak Trail from the trailhead for Bear Peak located in the 2700 block of Bison Road.

The man was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he later died. Medical personnel believe the man was struck by a direct lightning strike on his upper body.

“The weather is highly unpredictable and we are just saddened to see this occur,” said Phil Yates of City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks. The first rescuers to arrive were rangers from the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks and a ranger from Boulder County Parks & Open Space.

The city does not have a system in a place to close trails due to lightning. Yates says marshaling that type of activity with Colorado’s unpredictable weather is incredibly difficult. It’s up to hikers to plan ahead for their own safety, starting with the time they leave home.

“The earlier you can plan your trips, the better.”

Some of our areas don’t have great cell service. That’s why it’s important to go with someone else,” says Yates. If there’s not enough service to get a phone call through to 911, Yates suggests texting 911.

If you must go alone, hikers are advised to tell someone where they’re headed. This gives first responders a place to start looking if something goes wrong.

“The more we can be thoughtful and safe when we recreate outdoors, the more we can minimize the impact on people who conduct these emotional and trying rescues,” said Yates.

According to the National Weather Service, there have been eight lightning-related deaths in the U.S. this year. Sunday’s was the first in Colorado.

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