Glacier hikers struck by lightning cannot recall accident


Glacier hikers struck by lightning cannot recall accident 07-19-2013

KALISPELL, Mont. - Travis Heitmann took several pictures on a recent trip to Glacier National Park, but doesn't remember a single shot.

"The last spot I remember stopping at was Haystack Creek," said Heitmann.

Heitmann and Kinsey Leishman are now strangers to Glacier. The friends had planned a hike to Virginia Falls with a boy Heitmann mentors in Kalispell. They headed out on their adventure Wednesday morning.

"It was going good. I think that we kind of thought that it was going to storm but figured we'd be out of there before it stormed," said Leishman.

Three-quarters of a mile from the St. Mary Falls trailhead, a storm rolled in. Lightning struck and left the trio on the ground, unconscious.

"I just don't remember any of hit happening," Leishman explained. "It's kind of like looking from the outside in."

Other hikers did CPR before rangers arrived on scene.

"To think I got struck by lightning and two days of my life are gone... it's crazy," Heitmann said.

Neither can remember what happened in the minutes from the lightning strike to waking up at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. Only on Friday did the friends start to regain their thoughts.

"Sore, achy. My chest hurts. But at least I'm thinking clearly now," said Heitmann.

Leishman, a nurse at Community Medical Center in Missoula said the experience has given her new perspective to bring back to work.

"It's different to be in [patient's] shoes so I think I will definitely take that with me."

The pair donned special shirts Friday, emblazoned with a lightning bolt - a reminder of a hike in Glacier National Park that ended with nothing short of a miracle.

"We're just grateful for the people that were there that got to them quick," said Kinsey's father, Jason.

"Lot of people helped me through the last days, thank you. That's all I can say," said Heitmann.

Leishman was discharged from KRMC Friday afternoon. Heitmann will be returning home Friday evening. We're told the young boy will be staying another night in the hospital before being released.

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