7 hikers, all kids, hospitalized after lightning strikes youth group on trail

Lightning over forest
The group was hiking in the desert when a light rain caused puddling on the ground (Image credit: Getty)

A youth group was struck by lightning on a Utah hiking trail yesterday, sending seven minors to the hospital. This is the second time this week we've reported on dangerous weather conditions in the state –  over the weekend, mountain rescue crews near Moab rescued 20 hikers trapped in a canyon due to flash flooding.

According to a Facebook post by Sevier County Sheriff's Office, the youth group from the Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints in Salina was hiking south of Fremont Junction near the Willow Springs Overlook at around 1:45 p.m. when it began to rain.

As is often the case in desert landscapes, the light rainstorm resulted in puddling on the group, creating dangerous conditions during a lightning storm.

"Lightning struck the ground next to the youth. Approximately 50 youth felt the shock of the lightning," reports the sheriff's office.

Seven of the youths were hospitalized for concerns due to electrocution. The two most seriously affected were airlifted by helicopter to Lehi, while the remainder were taken to a nearby hospital. None of the injuries are expected to be life-threatening.

wildfire safety: lightning and wildfire

If a storm develops while you're in an exposed area, try to get to lower elevations and seek shelter (Image credit: Getty)

How to stay safe during summer thunderstorms

Lightning is a common summer hiking hazard, and it's particularly dangerous when hiking in the desert and at high altitude. Always check the weather forecast using a reliable weather app before heading out on the hiking trail. If there are afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast, plan to start hiking early and get back to the trailhead by 12 p.m. for safety.

If a storm develops while you're in an exposed area, try to get to lower elevations and seek shelter, but not near tall objects that might attract lightning. Get rid of metal objects like trekking poles and crouch down, spreading out if you are hiking in a large group. Learn more in our article on how to avoid getting struck by lightning.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.