Owner's dog likely saved him and 13 other hikers struck by lightning

Jun 30, 2015 9:02 PM by NBC News

Doctors told a hiker struck by lightning that his dog Rambo likely saved him and 13 other people nearby because he took the brunt of the bolt.

Jonathan Hardman was hiking with his friends Mary Prescott, Will Chandler, Matt Dayer and his German shepherd nearly 14,000 feet up on Mount Bierstadt in Colorado when lightning struck, NBC station KUSA reported.

"It was beautiful the whole way up," Hardman said. "I didn't even have to put on a long sleeve shirt until I was almost at the top."

The group starting hiking early to reach the peak before noon. When they started to descend, a storm came rolling in with hail pouring down, KUSA reported.

"All I remember is just a light... just a bright light hitting the ground, and then I just fell," Prescott's fiancé Chandler said. "I got up and everybody was on the ground crying and screaming."

KUSA reported that Hardman was trying to help Rambo down the peak when the storm hit.

"I was coaching my dog down, telling him to jump where I was and next thing I know, I just wake up, and I couldn't move my hands or my arms or my legs," he said.

Hardman began searching for Rambo and found the dog lying dead nearby.

The rest of the group of hikers rushed to help Hardman, who was bleeding profusely. Hardman would have to hike down the mountain, since rescue crews couldn't get helicopters to their location because of the storm.

"I wasn't going to leave without my dog, and one of the hikers up there, he was trying to carry my dog down, but he was 70 pounds," Hardman said. "I saw him trying to throw his lifeless body over his shoulder."

Doctors determined Hardman was directly hit by the bolt from a wound where they believe the lightning struck him. But doctors also told him that Rambo shared the electric charge because he was right beside him, KUSA reported.

"He was right at my side," Hardman said. "And if it weren't for him, I might have had that whole thing in my body alone."


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