A father and his two young children, who were on a backpacking trip in the Sequoia National Forest in California, were struck by lightning as they sat next to a tree near Jennie Lake.
Across the lake not far away, Akiko Barton was shooting video of the worsening weather conditions and captured footage of the lightning strike, along with her husband Nick saying, “They fell into the water … We have to go help them.”
The incident occurred over Labor Day weekend, but the Barton’s video was just posted Thursday:
Chris Lovera, 51, and his 12-year-old son Aiden and 9-year-old daughter Nadia were taking a video of themselves in the storm when they were struck. All were momentarily knocked unconscious and none has a recollection of what happened, according to CBS San Francisco.
“We didn’t hear, see or sense in any way that this had happened,” Lovera told the Monterey Herald. “It was so bizarre – from the moment we all have this collective memory of videotaping this torrential downpour – that’s kind of where everything stopped.”
The kids awakened first.
“I thought he was dead cuz I was just screaming at him and I couldn’t see him breathing or moving,” Aiden told CBS San Francisco, referring to his father.
Like Nick, Royce and Melissa Gibson also saw the lightning strike and were the first people to respond.
“A bolt hits a tree and a puff of smoke comes out and it looked like their bodies just elevated — and hit the ground,” Royce told the Monterey Herald.
“I was in disbelief. My wife said, ‘Did you see those branches fall?’ I said, ‘I don’t think those were branches.'”
Nick told Lovera that it looked like his family had been “blown up.”
The three were flown by CHP helicopter to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
Lovera, 51, suffered first- and second-degree burns on sections of his upper right back, armpit and down his arm…He was paralyzed for the first few hours, blackened and bloody with his clothes burned off his body. He also suffered a ruptured eardrum. The strike exited from the top of Lovera’s foot and was so powerful it blew his sandal apart.
His daughter Nadia … came out in the best shape physically with burns on the back of her right arm and on her upper thighs, although she too suffered partial paralysis. The electrical current entered her body through her right arm. After regaining consciousness, and trying to get to her dad, she also fell and hit her head on a rock.
“Aiden unfortunately took a little bit more of the strike,” noted Lovera, who said [he] also had his eardrum blown out (a common result of a lightning strike), a pellet wound from the top of his scull down to his jaw line and burns on his leg.
Both Lovera and his son have since seen an ear, nose and throat specialist and are hopeful that the part of the ear that was damaged will re-generate.
Read more about lightning on GrindTV