American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Lightning, North Carolina, Hanging Rock State Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990


North Carolina, Hanging Rock State Park

On March 18, 1989, Staff Sargeant Lynn Tiegdan was struck and killed by lightning on Moore’s Wall. The storm occurred just after 1400. Tiegdan was part of a group of climbers who sought shelter in what they thought was a protected area. The strike affected four climbers. At the time, Tiegdan was leaning against the rock face with a wet coil of rope looped over both shoulders. Despite an over two hour resuscitative effort, which included CPR, IV, oxygen, epinephrine, atropine sulfate and sodium bicarbonate, the victim died from electrical shock. (Source: from a report by Paul M. Weathers)


The victim’s location was actually in a spark gap, under a ledge. The rope helped act as a conductor. While there may be no “good” location on a route, being out from under a ledge or shallow cave is a better choice. (Source:J. Williamson) (Editor’s Note: North Carolina ranks high nationally in the number of lightning-related, deaths. In June, another lightning death occurred when a hiker near the Attic Window Peak area of Grandfather Mountain was struck and thrown from a cliff, falling 40 meters to rocks below. Our thanks to Aram Attarian for sending reports from North Carolina.)

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