Teen Hiker Killed During Lightning Storm

More than 100 strikes recorded in an hour on Arizona mountain
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2016 6:43 AM CDT
Teen Hiker Killed During Lightning Storm
This undated photo provided by the Red Mountain Knights Youth Rugby Club shows Wade Young, 17, of Tempe, Ariz.   (Red Mountain Knights Youth Rugby Club via AP)

(Newser) – A 17-year-old boy killed by lightning on Arizona's highest peak Wednesday was hiking in an area that experienced over 100 strikes within a one-hour period and is known for its extreme weather, authorities said. The Coconino County Sheriff's Office identified the boy as Wade Young of Tempe, Arizona, reports the AP. Young, who just graduated from high school, was struck by lightning close to the summit of Humphreys Peak near Flagstaff. The boy and two others were hiking the peak when a strong monsoon storm rolled in. The group called 911 dispatchers shortly before 1pm seeking help, but they weren't rescued for hours because of weather conditions. The two survivors, ages 17 and 18, are recuperating.

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Cory Mottice, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said there were 106 on-the-ground and 393 cloud-to-cloud lightning strikes between noon and 1pm in that area on Wednesday. Emergency responders trying to reach the hikers were staved off by nearby lightning that made it unsafe for them to proceed, and they weren't able to reach the hikers until about 4pm. Mottice says the NWS tracks only ongoing or recent lightning storms and doesn't keep long-term data. But that area near Flagsatff is known for high monsoon storm activity, and the US Forest Service warns visitors about the dangers of lightning on its website. (Read more lightning strike stories.)

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