Idaho Man Survives Lightning Strike to the Head

Ryan Cross was camping with some friends near Idaho City when the electrical storm moved in. The strike left a scar down his chest.

An Idaho man escaped a brush with death this weekend when a lightning bolt arced through a stormy sky and struck him in the head.

Ryan Cross, 34, was camping near Idaho City on Sunday with two friends on ATVs when a thunderstorm swept through the area, his wife Heather told NBC affiliate KTVB. As hail started to fall, Ryan dismounted from his ATV and took cover under the only shelter around — a nearby pine tree.

"He was under the tree, looking at a map on his phone, and that's when it all happened," Heather said.

The lightning bolt hit Ryan in the head, coursed through his body and exited through his back, Heather said. The lightning left a scarlet scar down his chest and in a spot on his back.

One of Ryan's friends was briefly knocked unconscious by the lightning. When he regained consciousness, he ran to a nearby road, where he met up with people in a SUV and summoned help.

"That helped save his life," Heather said.

When he arrived at the Saint Alphonsus intensive care unit in nearby Boise, Ryan had bleeding in his brain. He is now alert, eating and starting to get back on his feet, his wife said.

The powerful bolt shredded Ryan's gear and left it hot to the touch.

Experts recommend moving to shelter immediately in the event of an electrical storm. If no shelter is available, people should stay low to the ground.

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

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