Lightning strike blasts clothes off Sierra hiker

An Austrian man hiking 9,000 feet up in the Sierra Nevada was on a peak taking a photo when he was struck by a lightning bolt that blasted away his clothes, burned a hole in one of his shoes and left him with severe burns.

Mathias Steinhuber, who was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with his girlfriend and friend Carla Elvidge had an entry wound on his hand and an exit wound on his foot, Elvidge said in a phone interview from Fairfield, California.

“He was taking a picture and the next thing I know, I see this white flash, like an explosion,” Elvidge said.

Steinhuber had major burns throughout his body and was struggling to walk when a helicopter crew rescued him from an exposed peak among the rugged mountains near Donner Summit, the California Highway Patrol Valley Air Operations said.

Steinhuber was hiking ahead of his friends and had reached the top of Tinkers Knob, a bare peak with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and the forests below and was taking a photo when the women heard a large crack and saw a white flash.

Steinhuber was thrown away and his shoes and all his clothes, including his underwear, were ripped off from his body. The lightning bolt singed his clothes and burned a gaping hole through one of his tennis shoes.

“It was a terrible experience. One of those things that you never want to be near or involved in,” Elvidge said.



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