DENVER (CBS4) – Survivors of a lightning strike on one of Colorado’s highest peaks talked about their frightening experience with CBS4 and showed their scars from Mother Nature.
The strike happened Sunday morning on Mount Bierstadt. The climbers were 500 feet from the summit when they were rocked by a violent storm. Crews rushed three people to the hospital but 12 others were able to walk away.
CBS4’s Kathy Walsh talked to those most seriously hurt. All three are home recovering on Monday. They say it happened in an instant. They are injured but so grateful to be alive. But they also mourn the loss of a beautiful German shepherd who may have saved his owner’s life.
Jonathan Hardman suffered cuts and bruises on his body — and his heart is broken because his dog was killed by the strike.
“It’s like losing your best friend,” he said
Hardman was hiking the mountain with three friends and two dogs.
“Clear skies; you couldn’t have asked for a better day,” he said.
The group celebrated at the top and took pictures. Hardman never thought it would be his last picture with his dog, 7-month-old Rambo.
“It came out of nowhere,” he said.
About 11:30 a.m. a storm cloud appeared on the hike down and lightning suddenly struck.
“We heard a big boom, a big flash,” Mary Prescott said.
Prescott blacked out and fell face first into rocks. She needed 43 stitches and two staples.
“It was the scariest thing ever because everybody hit the ground,” Prescott’s fiancé Will Chandler said.
Chandler suffered cuts and a swollen eye.
“It could have been way worse,” Prescott said.
It was worse for their friend Hardman. The lightning hit him on the top of his head and he was knocked out. Branch-like marks on his body showed where the electricity traveled through him.
“I couldn’t move my arms or legs and my hands were purple,” Hardman said.
And his dog was dead.
“I looked up and I saw him lying there,” Hardman said.
Hardman believes Rambo saved him.
“If it wouldn’t have been for him right next to me I feel like I probably would have had most of that electricity go through me, not through him,” he said.
The friends are still in shock and need to rest and recover. They know firsthand the power of a mountain storm, but they say will hike again.
The three say they will be forever grateful to all of the people who helped them. There happened to be an emergency medical technician on the mountain who bandaged Prescott’s head, and strangers called 911 and slowly walked them down to safety.
Monday evening Hardman told Walsh that Rambo’s body has been recovered from the mountain and is currently at Evergreen Animal Hospital. He said he has an appointment with a neurologist on Tuesday and then plans get Rambo and bury him in a nice place in the mountains.