Rider hurt, horse killed in lightning strike

Posted at 4:54 PM, Apr 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-01 09:35:38-04

A horseback rider was taken to the hospital after being struck by lightning Saturday.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies say the man and his horse were riding in the area of Airport and Arlington in Buckeye around 3 p.m. when the pair was struck by lightning.

Witnesses said the man was riding with two relatives and appeared to be heading home as a brewing storm moved in.

“It was extremely dark to the left of us, the wind was blowing very hard. Then all of a sudden there was just a very loud boom,” said Evelyn and Kevin Kempton, who live right by the field where the lightning strike occurred.

“I was working on my shed when I saw sparks flying off my tin roof,” said Robert Borger, who lives across the street from the field.

The bolt killed the horse. The rider, who authorities said was a 31-year-old man, is expected to survive.

Borger said the man appeared to be lifeless and had turned purple. He also had burn marks on his upper body, and his straw hat had been blown to bits on impact.

Deputy Joaquin Enriquez called it an "act of God" that the man could not have controlled.

The man was transported to the Maricopa Medical Center's burn unit to be treated for his injuries. Enriquez said he was in "extremely critical" condition as of Saturday night.