Lightning survivor has no memory of deadly strike

Lightning Kills Two in National Park in Colorado


DENVER (AP) -- Justin Teilhet doesn't remember hearing a boom or feeling a sting, just waking up numb on the treeless tundra high in Rocky Mountain National Park and discovering his good friend was trying to revive his wife.

It was a lightning bolt, he learned later, and it killed his wife and left him with a burn on his shoulder and a cut on his face when he was knocked to the ground unconscious.

READ MORE: Lightning safety tips for mountain visitors

Lightning killed two people last weekend just miles apart in the popular park, where summer storms can close in quickly with deadly results.

Rebecca Teilhet, 42, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, was killed Friday while hiking on the Ute Crossing Trail at about 11,400 feet above sea level. Justin Teilhet and six other hikers were injured.

Lightning Strikes (two images lead from recent deaths)
See Gallery
Lightning survivor has no memory of deadly strike
ANKARA, TURKEY - JUNE 15: Lightnings brighten the sky over Ankara the Turkish capital on June 15, 2014. Following a waterspout by night, streaks of lightning flash on the Mausoleum of Ataturk. (Photo by Firat Yurdakul/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JUNE 5: A bolt of lightning illuminated the sky behind downtown Denver late Thursday night, June 5, 2014. (Photo by Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - JUNE 15: Lightnings brighten the sky over Ankara the Turkish capital on June 15, 2014. Following a waterspout by night, streaks of lightning flash on Ankara. (Photo by Firat Yurdakul/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A photo taken early on June 10, 2014 shows a lightning strike during a thunderstorm over Gavere, Belgium. AFP PHOTO / BELGA PHOTO / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK (Photo credit: NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/AFP/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MAY 22: Lightning flashes over Rainbow Bridge on May 22, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Lightning strikes over Johannesburg on October 26, 2013. Johannesburg claims to be the lightning capital of the world, though this title is also claimed by others. More than 260 people are killed by lightning strikes in South Africa each year. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
POOLE, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Lightning strikes over Poole Harbour during a thunderstorm on July 21, 2013 in Poole, England. The spell of hot weather was brought to an end last night on the South coast after a second week of heatwave conditions across the UK. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Lightning strikes over San Pietro mountain, close from Ajaccio, in the French Mediterranean Island of Corsica, on August 9, 2013. AFP PHOTO PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA (Photo credit: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY - FEBRUARY 11: Lightning strikes St Peter's dome at the Vatican on February 11, 2013. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

One day later and a few miles away, lightning killed 52-year-old Gregory Cardwell of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, at Rainbow Curve, a pullover on Trail Ridge Road with sweeping vistas from a vantage point about 10,800 feet above sea level. Three others were hurt by that strike.

They were the first lightning deaths in the park since 2000, officials said.

Thunderstorms occur in the park almost daily during the peak travel months of summer, and many produce lightning.

"A storm blew in, and it came very fast," Justin Teilhet said Monday from his home in Ohio. "It started raining a little bit. We were hearing claps of thunder everywhere, but it there wasn't any lightning."

His wife and his good friend Nick Tertel of Fort Collins were hustling back to the trailhead parking lot on Trail Ridge Road as the storm closed in.

The next thing Teilhet remembers was struggling to lift his body from the ground, with one side numb.

"I was walking, and then I was trying to stand up," he said, adding he had no memory of anything in between.

"When I found Nick trying to revive my wife, I crawled to them and tried to help."

Tertel also was injured but gave Rebecca Teilhet CPR and kept her alive until paramedics arrived, Justin Teilhet said. "He really was a hero at that event."

Tertel declined to comment.

Park officials said a helicopter was dispatched, but Rebecca Teilhet died at the scene.

Lightning Danger Rocky Mountain Park

More from
Man's incredibly close call with lightning
Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 90

Read Full Story

From Our Partners