August 23, 2017 – On 8/22/2017 at approximately 1400 hours, the crew of H-24 received a call from the Cal Fire Grass Valley dispatch center of a lightning strike male victim in the remote wilderness area of Tinkers Knob near Donner Summit.
The crew responded from the Auburn Airport and located the victim on the summit of Tinkers Knob. Pilot Officer Dan Lewis landed and dropped off Paramedic Officer Matt Calcutt who assisted the victim to the aircraft. The patient was transported to Tahoe Forest Hospital for evaluation and patient stabilization.
The patient sustained major burns throughout his body as a result of a full lightning strike. The patient was eventually transported the UC Davis Burn Center by Careflight Air Ambulance out of Truckee for further treatment.
The male victim was visiting from Austria with his girlfriend and hiking from Donner Summit to Squaw Valley with a friend from Fairfield, California. All three are experienced hikers and according to the girlfriend there were no signs of thunderstorms at the start or during their hike.
The friend had hiked this route numerous times and observed only clouds prior to the initial strike that hit the victim. The victim was hiking ahead of the girlfriend and friend when they heard a large crack and saw a flash of light at the top of Tinkers Knob where the victim was standing.
Worried about subsequent strikes, the two friends remained off the ridge and called 911 for help. The two down the ridge below attempted to make voice contact from a safe distance with the victim.
The victim eventually started to wave his arms and communicate by yelling to the two down the ridge. They never saw the victim again because the helicopter landed and took the victim to the hospital. The two friends hiked down Coldstream Canyon after the helicopter left.