Lightning investigated as cause of death for California family

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Lightning could be to blame for the deaths of a couple, their one-year-old daughter and the family dog. There bodies were discovered in a remote area near Yosemite National Park in Northern California last month.

Jonathan Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their toddler, Miju, and their dog, Oksi, were found dead by search and rescue workers on August 17th. They were found along the Savage Lundy Trail in the Sierra National Forest, near the south fork of the Merced River, according to police.

But after finding their bodies, officials haven’t been able to explain what happened. No one really knows how this family died.

So initial autopsy reports are back, but they have yielded few definitive answers. We do, however, know that they were NOT killed by gases from a nearby mine. We also know they were NOT killed by weapons such as a gun or knife. There were actually no visible signs of trauma on any of the victims.

Now officials are considering if lightning is to blame.

It’s rare to be struck by lightning.

The odds of being struck by lightning in the United States is about 1 in 500,000. Around 50 people a year are killed by lightning in the U.S. Most who are struck by lightning recover.

After posting this story on facebook, a lot of you had questions. As do I. This case has baffled us all. So I am going to try and answer a few questions you all asked in the comments section.

First, can multiple people die from one lightning strike?

The answer is yes.

In June of 2011, a lightning strike killed 19 children at a school in Uganda. We are told that the children were on a dirt floor, and the lightning strike spread across it. The lightning strike killed a number of children and the teacher.

In Uganda, most people live in huts or homes that don’t have any wiring or plumbing. When lightning strikes these homes, it doesn’t have a path to follow to the ground.

Here in the United States, we have homes and buildings with plumbing and wiring. So when lightning strikes our homes, it will follow the wiring or plumbing to the ground.

Also, on December 23, 1975, a strong storm hit Zimbabwe. A group of 21 people huddled in one hut. They all were killed when lightning hit the shelter.

Next question… wouldn’t there be visible signs of getting struck by lightning?

Not necessarily.

A person struck by lightning may have immediate cardiac arrest. In other cases, you may not see any outward signs of injury. Some people lose consciousness for varying periods. They may seem confused and not remember what happened. Lightning may even flash over the outside of a person, blow off their clothes, and leave few obvious signs of injury.

Every lightning strike victim varies.

Some suffer from cardiac arrest and heart damage.

Some suffer from keraunoparalysis… a temporary paralysis unique to lightning strikes.

Victims may experience superficial burns. Contrary to common belief, deep burns are rare.

Various types of broken bones and dislocations may be caused by lightning.

Skull fractures and cervical spine (neck) injuries may result from associated blunt trauma.

Lungs may be damaged, causing shortness of breath.

Eye injury may cause immediate visual problems or delayed cataract formation.

The eardrum is commonly ruptured. This causes pain, hearing loss and dizziness.

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