OSHA investigates lightning strike in Colorado

7/19/2013 8:15 PM
By Associated Press

WELLINGTON, Colo. (AP) — Five people — two farmworkers and three hikers — remained hospitalized Friday following lightning strikes in Colorado and Montana.

Wellington Fire Protection District chief Gary Green said two farm workers were still in the hospital, and nine others were treated at local hospitals after a lightning bolt struck near them Thursday as they tried to seek shelter in a field north of Fort Collins, Colo.

Green said 11 people were preparing land for planting when a strong thunderstorm hit. Some of the workers were trying to reach shelter under a tractor, and others were heading for a vehicle when they were hit.

"When we arrived, they were out on the road," Green said. "We put eight people in ambulances, and three were taken to the hospital in personal vehicles."

Kelly Tracer, spokeswoman for Medical Center of the Rockies, said two farmworkers remained hospitalized there, and nine others were treated at another hospital and released. Their names, nationalities and conditions were being withheld.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it was in the very early stages of an investigation to see if there were any workplace safety violations.

Meanwhile, a 65-year-old woman who was struck by lightning Thursday near a trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado was transferred from Estes Park Medical Center to another hospital. Her name and condition were not released.

Rocky Mountain National Park officials said an earlier storm on Wednesday caused a large debris flow of mud, rocks and trees that covered the Fern Lake Trail on the east side of the park. They said hikers and horseback riders were able to evacuate safely.

In Montana, the families of three hikers who were injured by a lightning strike in Glacier National Park said they are grateful to other park visitors who performed CPR and called for medical help.

Travis Heitman of Kalispell, Kensey Leishman of Missoula and an 11-year-old boy whom Heitman is mentoring were hospitalized in Kalispell and were recovering from injuries suffered in the strike Wednesday afternoon.

Leishman's father, Jason Leishman of Huson, said the last thing any of the three remember is hustling back to a vehicle because a storm was coming.

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