Nampa man caught in storm struck by lightning

Man struck by lightning in Idaho City

BOISE-- The odds of getting struck by a bolt of lightning in the U.S? Statistics show it's about once in 700,000 people a year, based on deaths and injuries.

However, this Memorial Day weekend, it happened to one Nampa man and he survived it.

34-year-old Ryan Cross had bleeding in his brain and was in Saint Alphonsus' Intensive Care Unit Sunday. According to his wife, he is now alert, eating and even has even had the chance to walk around a bit.

Heather Cross got a call from the emergency room over the weekend, but the conversation she had with a receptionist left her feeling uncertain about what was going on.

"I don't have a lot of information for you other than he was struck by lightning," recalls Heather of the phone call.

So she packed up her two kids to be by her husband's side.

"I really just tried to stay strong," said Heather. "The drive from Nampa to here (Boise) was the longest drive of my life. I didn't know what I was going to walk into."

Ryan spent the weekend with friends near Idaho City camping, riding 4-wheelers and dirt bikes.

"They were riding, and it started raining and then all of a sudden it started hailing pretty heavily so they stopped," said Heather. "Ryan got off his four wheeler went under a tree to protect himself from the hail, leaned up against a tree, was looking at a map on his phone, and that is when it all happened."

She said the men got caught in the storm and were looking for a way back out of the woods.

"They had no idea the storm was coming in other than it just showed up," she said.

The two other friends with Ryan were also impacted by the lightning bolt. One was on a four wheeler and just got an intense ringing in his ears. The other had one foot on the ground and one still on his dirt bike, so his leg was hit indirectly with the bolt. Both were checked out by paramedics on the spot and are doing fine.

After a brief moment of unconsciousness, one of the men ran down the road to find help, Heather said he met up with some people in an SUV and used "OnStar" to get help.

"That helped save his life," said Heather.

From pictures shared with KTVB, Ryan is seen in his hospital bed with what appears to be a red streak down the front of his chest from the bolt. Heather said the bolt entered his head and exited out of his back.

"Storms grow quickly and come on you quickly in the mountains," said KTVB Meteorologist Larry Gebert.

As he explains, sometimes electrical energy is already brewing in the air even before you see lightning or hear thunder.

"Storms develop so fast and based on the ruggedness of the mountains you can't see it coming. The best thing to do in a storm, when you have no protection is to be the smallest thing out there," said Gebert.

He advises to move to shelter if you can, if not get down low and ride out the storm protecting yourself from the rain and hail as best you can.

In Ryan's case, the bolt was so powerful, it left the gear he was wearing hot to the touch and shredded.

"It's something that I will never say again, it will never happen to me," said Heather. "You know you just take storms for granted."

Heather said the doctors don't know Ryan's long term health impacts from the lightning strike right now, but she believes, he is recovering well.

There is a GoFundMe account set up if you like to help.


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