Rafting guide struck by lightning at Grand Canyon

This April 17, 2012, National Park Service photo shows lightning striking Mather Point in Grand Canyon National Park. Summer storms in the southwest are often accompanied by potentially deadly lightning. Visitors walking and hiking in the park are reminded that if they can hear thunder, they should consider ending outdoor activities. If the sound of thunder follows a lightning flash within 30 seconds, seek shelter inside a building or vehicle. If this is not possible, move well away from high points such as ridges and the edge of the canyon. Do not seek shelter beneath tall trees. Lightning strikes within Grand Canyon National Park an average of 26,073 times per year, according to the NPS. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, April 17, 2012 | NPS Photo by Michael Quinn, courtesy of NPS, St. George News

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – A rafting guide was airlifted out of Grand Canyon National Park Sunday after being struck by lightning.

At approximately 9:15 p.m. Sunday, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a call reporting that an Arizona Raft Adventures river guide required medical attention as a result of a lightning strike. The group was camped at river mile 220. Arizona Department of Public Safety airlifted the AZRA guide to University Medical Center in Las Vegas for treatment of associated injuries.

Lightning strikes at the bottom of the canyon are rare, backcountry users can help reduce risk by getting off the water as soon as thunder is heard and not stand in the river or other pools of water during a storm. Avoid seeking shelter near trees and bushes that rise above others and avoid cave entrances.

If in an open area during a storm it is recommend to assume the lightning position which will reduce the chances of getting a direct strike. Individuals should squat or ball up to be as low as possible, without lying flat on the ground. Wrap your arms around your legs, keep your feet together, and if possible use a sleeping pad or other insulated object to sit on; avoid sitting on backpacks with metal frames.

Serious injuries and fatalities have occurred at Grand Canyon National Park in the past as a result of lightning strikes. Visitors to the park are reminded that if the sound of thunder follows a lightning flash within 30 seconds or less, they should seek shelter in a building or vehicle, or proceed to the nearest bus stop to get on a park shuttle.


If you see it, flee it. If you hear it, clear it.

For more on how to be “lightning smart”, please visit Grand Canyon National Park’s web site.

Additional information about staying safe outdoors can be found at the National Weather Service website.

Submitted by: Grand Canyon National Park

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