Lightning strike kills teenage hiker in Arizona

Posted at 6:51 AM, Jul 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 06:51:16-04

A lightning strike killed a teenage hiker this week at the highest point in Arizona, police said.

The unidentified 17-year-old male hiker was fatally struck Wednesday near the summit of Humphreys Peak, the Coconino Sheriff’s Office said.

Two other hikers, ages 17 and 18, were transported to a Flagstaff hospital. Their condition is unknown, but they were conscious and walking when emergency responders reached them, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Their injuries were apparently related to their proximity to the lightning strike.

At 12,633 feet, Humphreys Peak is the highest point in the state, and with a trail that leads directly to the summit, is a popular hiking spot in the Flagstaff area.

“It’s the middle of our monsoon season here. Some hikers did get caught in that today,” said Erika Wiltenmuth, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities were alerted to the lightning strike after a 911 call from a group near the summit. Rescue crews waited for the weather to subside before heading up the trail.

Mountain hiking is high on the list of activities where people are injured or killed by lightning, according to the Coconino National Forest website, which lists tips to avoid getting hit.

“If you are caught above the tree line when a storm approaches, descend quickly. Avoid isolated trees. It is better to run into a forest,” the website said.