SAGLE — Two men were injured by a lightning strike late Saturday morning, according to Bonner County Emergency Medical Services.
One man, 45, was seriously injured and flown in stable condition by Life Flight Network to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, said Bonner EMS spokesman Bob Abbott. The other, said to be in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Bonner General Hospital.
The men were laying cable in a trench when lightning struck at about 11:30 a.m. on property off of Swan Shores Drive, which is located on the south side of the Pend Oreille River and south of Muskrat Lake.
“It appeared that the lightning hit the electrical line and went through the buried cable,” said Abbott.
The 45-year-old victim had entrance and exit wounds and electrical burns to the lower half of his body. Abbott said the severity of the burns are difficult to assess in the field.
“They damage from the inside out,” Abbott said of electrical burns from lightning strikes.
The other subject had no entrance or exit wounds and appeared to have been hit by the strike’s ground current, Abbott said.
Neither man’s identity was disclosed so their conditions could not be immediately ascertained on Saturday. Abbott suspects the more seriously injured subject could be transferred to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.
The National Weather Service counsels that the best course of action if you are caught outdoors during a lightning storm is to immediately seek shelter in a building or vehicle. Do not shelter under trees or under picnic shelters.
Those on the water are urged to make their way to land immediately.
If shelter is simply not available, the National Outdoor Leadership School advises people to find low ground and stay away from metal structures, including railroad tracks. For those who cannot escape exposure to lightning, NOLS urges people to assume the lightning position, which involves squatting or sitting in a balled-up pose and wrapping your arms around your legs.