Man Struck By Lightning on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park
On Wednesday, August 4, park rangers received a cell phone call around 11:00 am that a 31-year-old man was injured on Longs Peak. He had been found by other hikers in “The Narrows” area close to the junction with “The Homestretch” at roughly 13,800 feet. The initial reports indicated that he had hiked to Longs Peak the day before and had spent an unplanned night in the backcountry. He was conscious and able to walk slowly with assistance but was unable to recall what had caused his injuries. At 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Minnesota man was reported overdue by friends. They indicated he had hiked to Longs Peak on Tuesday and had not returned.
Continued phone calls to park dispatch by visitors along the route, indicated that visitors were assisting the man down the route. They were also providing dry clothing, food and water. A park trail crew in the area reached the man at 1:10 p.m. on “The Ledges.” Due to an assessment of injuries at that time, it was determined that the man had been struck by lightning sometime late Tuesday. He had numerous burn injuries.
The trail crew was able to provide immediate care and continued to walk the man to the Agnes Vaille shelter, a primitive historic shelter, located at “The Keyhole.” They waited out an intense storm with lightning, hail, heavy rains and low temperatures. Once the severe storm passed, they began walking slowly down the route and connected with park rangers at 4:10 p.m. at “The Boulderfield.” Rangers provided more emergency medical care to the man.
The first litter team of park staff reached the patient at 5:25 p.m. Wednesday evening. Due to the severe weather in the area during the beginning of the rescue, helicopters were unable to fly. Weather conditions improved and at approximately 6:30 p.m. Flight for Life flew the patient to St. Anthony Central. Approximately 35 people are involved with this rescue in the field, including a paramedic from Estes Park Medical Center. Park rescue personnel are hiking back to the trailhead and should be out of the backcountry by 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night.