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BEAVER — Two girls were seriously injured after a lightning strike in Beaver County on Friday morning, according to Beaver County sheriff’s detective Kelly Davis.
Around 10:30 or 11 a.m. Friday, the girls were planning to go on a hike near Big Flat in the Tushar Mountains, about 25 miles east of Beaver, Davis said. They were camping with family members about 2 miles away and had driven an ATV to the trailhead, along with their dog.
Witnesses told officials that the girls were crossing an open meadow about 100 yards west of state Route 153 when the lightning struck, Davis said.
The dog returned to the campsite and alerted family members, who then followed the dog back to the lighting strike site, according to a Beaver County Sheriff's Office statement. Family members found both girls unconscious upon returning to the site.
A Utah Department of Public Safety was flying in the Beaver County area with biologists doing a study when that call came in.
"We just happened to be in the right place at the right time," said Utah Department of Public Safety pilot Bret Hutchings. "It's pretty dramatic when you see what happens when a person gets struck by lightning."
Hutchings landed the helicopter in the area a few minutes later and airlifted the girls, one age 16 and the other age 8, to Beaver Valley Hospital. They were later taken to hospitals in Salt Lake City, Davis said.
"I asked who was the more critical? They said this one that was with the mother,” Hutchings said. “So I said, ‘Mom, come with me. Let’s get her loaded and get her down there.’ So we had about an 8-minute flight down to Beaver (Valley) Hospital."
The 8-year-old was in critical condition and the 16-year old was in serious, but stable, condition, according to the sheriff's office statement.
“I think the quick response was simply witnesses being there and intervening as quick as they could and getting them off the mountain,” Davis said. “To my knowledge, there were no immediate life-saving measures that were taken shy of just transporting them off the mountain.”
Contributing: Alex Cabrero, KSL TV; Xoel Càrdenas, KSL.com