FOREST LAKES, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) - A lightning strike in the Mogollon Rim area killed a Florida woman and injured seven others seeking refuge under a pine tree during a thunderstorm Saturday afternoon, Coconino County sheriff's deputies said.
The location was so remote, it took emergency workers a long time to reach the area halfway between State Route 87 and Forest Lakes. Once they arrived, they found the woman dead and seven other people hurt. Members of the group attempted to resuscitate 24-year-old Christine Garcia of Orlando, FL, who was not breathing. Sheriff's deputies said it doesn't appear the lightning strike hit anyone directly. Deputies said lighting struck one of the pine trees where the group stood, knocking most of them to the ground.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Ranger helicopter was able to fly a critically injured man to the Flagstaff Medical Level One Trauma Center, where he is being treated for unknown injuries. Three less critically-injured patients, two men and one woman were taken by ambulance to Payson Regional Hospital for unknown injuries. Medical helicopters assigned closer to the area weren't able to fly to the scene due to the storm cell over the area.
Deputies said the hiking group left the Phoenix area on Friday evening and traveled to the Mogollon Rim for a weekend of camping and hiking. On Saturday the group was on a hiking trip when they were caught by a severe thunder and lightning storm. That's when they sought shelter underneath a stand of Ponderosa Pine trees, sheriff's deputiies said.