8 Hikers Hit by Lightning, 1 Critically Injured at Devil’s Head in Colorado

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
July 3, 2019US News
8 Hikers Hit by Lightning, 1 Critically Injured at Devil’s Head in Colorado
Devil's Head Lookout in Colorado. (GoHikeColorado.com)

Eight rock climbers and a dog on the remote Devil’s Head mountain trail in Colorado were caught by surprise when lighting struck the group on June 30.

All eight mountaineers were affected by the impact. Seven people managed to leave the scene by themselves, while one woman in critical condition had to be evacuated out of the trail on a stretcher, according to the Douglas County Search and Rescue.

The woman was transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance, said Douglas County Search and Rescue Public Information Officer Roman Bukari.

Heavy weather conditions did not allow for a trauma helicopter to make a touchdown, according to KDVR/Fox News.

After an unexpected rain storm arrived, the group huddled together and sought cover under a rock wall. Suddenly, the bolt of lightning hit the group at around 3:00 p.m.

The impact of the lightning was so strong that several people were knocked to the ground, according to the incident commander for Jackson 105 Fire Protection District Ryan Smedra, The Denver Channel reported.

Many hikers had burns from the strike and said they felt tingly sensations, but it’s not clear to which extent this sensation was related to being directly struck by the lightning or whether it was caused by a nearby strike. Smedra believed the latter was the case.

Sydney Copeland, a girl who touched the rock at the moment of impact said, “The girl behind me—I think she got struck and it traveled through my boyfriend to me. She fell forward and was paralyzed pretty instantly,” she told KDVR, a Fox affiliate.

Copeland was also one of those who complained about a numb and tingly feeling, “It was easily the scariest thing that will probably ever happen in my life,” she said. She also had burns on parts of her leg.

Copeland and her boyfriend were climbing near Devil’s Head Lookout when the weather suddenly changed, “I think from when it first started precipitating to when we all took shelter and got struck—it was like 10 minutes,” she said.

Copeland said, “We’re beyond blessed that it wasn’t worse. … Any of us could have struck as hard as that other girl.”

The Douglas County Search and Rescue was notified and some 30 people responded to the call to provide emergency aid.

“All parties were conscious and breathing. Seven of the climbers were able to walk out. The eighth climber was evacuated out via a litter carry with lightning strike injuries and transported to the hospital. It was a smooth multi-agency operation. We thank all who assisted,” Douglas County SAR posted on Twitter Sunday afternoon.

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