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Local Woman Survives Lightning Strike While Bike Riding In Boulder

Terri Menghini holds up her broken bike helmet which now has a large crack and scuffs from her recent lightning strike.

Terri Menghini holds up her broken bike helmet which now has a large crack and scuffs from her recent lightning strike.

By: Kris Hazelton

Terri Menghini, a long time summer resident of Estes Park was riding her bike in Boulder, training for an Ironman Triathlon on Monday when she was struck by lightning. Fortunately, Terri was not severely injured and is alive to tell about her experience.

Terri was going north on North Foothills Highway, near Longhorn Road, when she was struck around       1 p.m. and thrown off her bike.

The 44-year-old mother of five said she was in Mile 78 of her 100-mile bike ride for the day when she saw a dark cloud overhead. She saw lightning in the distance, and estimated that she could safely race back to her car. Terri said, “I thought, ‘I’m only two miles from my car, I’m going to go for it.’”

She was on the crest of hill when lightning struck within 100 feet of her.

“It came out of nowhere,” she said. “There was one lightning bolt and a huge ‘boom’ and within a minute, the second strike got me.”

Menghini doesn’t remember what happened next because she totally blacked out. When she woke up, five people were standing over her, holding umbrellas to cover her from the rain. She has no idea how long she was unconscious but a man who saw her right after the strike said she was lying on the ground, her arms and legs flailing about.

Terri wanted to get up but quickly realized she couldn’t move her arms and her vision went from blurry to black, she was totally blind.

The people around her called 9-1-1 and she asked them to get her cell phone and call her husband, Matt at their home in Estes Park to let him know what happened.
When Matt heard she had been struck by lightning, he ran to his neighbor John Groves home to see if he could help him get to his wife.

The two jumped in the car but got stuck in the road construction on Highway 36. Imagine his fears and frustration not knowing the condition of his wife while he was stuck in traffic for over a half hour.

Terri doesn’t remember anything about it, but her bike now needs repairs after her lightning strike and bicycle crash.  Photos EP NEWS/ Gary Hazelton

Terri doesn’t remember anything about it, but her bike now needs repairs after her lightning strike and bicycle crash. Photos EP NEWS/ Gary Hazelton

Meghini was transported to the Boulder Community Hospital, where according to Terri, she received the utmost in care. She was seen by a trauma physician, internist, cardiologist and many nurses. Her doctors carefully monitored her heartbeats, which were erratic when she was first admitted but then settled back into her normal rhythm. While there, Terri gradually recuperated and regained full motion in her arms as well as her eyesight. She was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon and wanted to thank Linda at the Safeway Pharmacy for staying open late because she was waiting for Terri’s prescriptions to be called in by doctors and received them after their normal store hours.

All that’s left of her harrowing brush with death is a bad road rash, a sprained wrist, bruised ribs, a bump on her head and a cracked helmet. She feels she’s back to her normal self aside from being very tired. Terri was extremely disappointed when doctors told her she could not compete in the half-Ironman in Boulder this Sunday but gave her permission to compete in the Ironman triathlon later this month.

Menghini, who runs a marathon every month and is outdoors all the time, said she is keenly aware of the dangers of thunderstorms. However, this one developed extremely quickly, she said, “It wasn’t even raining!”

The National Weather Service tells us within the state of Colorado, there are an average of three lightning-related fatalities a year and 15-20 injuries. It is lightning-and not tornadoes, hail or flooding-that is the most dangerous weather event to develop from thunderstorms. The trauma doctor told Terri that is was the metal on her bike that attracted the lightning, but the rubber tires with ground contact, that probably saved her life.

Colorado sees a half-million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes every year. If you see lightning and are outdoors, seek shelter in a building or go into a vehicle. “When thunder roars, go indoors,” the NWS says.

The reality finally hit Terri Tuesday night. “I realized how close I was to losing my life, I could have been taken away from Matt and our five kids, I was just so lucky. So lucky that now, I’m going to go buy a Powerball ticket,” joked Terri.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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