Two men survive being struck by lightning in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two Albuquerque men consider it a miracle they are both still here to tell their stories after getting struck while out on a hike. Although, a key difference in where they landed following the bolt has made each of their recoveries very different.

“I was in the storm’s way,” said Bruce Ponder, who was struck last Saturday.

The act of God stunned but did not stop Ponder or his friend, Don Harrington. “I had this sensation of flying through the air,” said Harrington.

On a hike, last Saturday, the group of four saw a storm brewing north of Jemez Springs. “It just came in really fast,” said Ponder.

They hurried down but didn’t quite beat it. “We weren’t doing anything stupid. This is the very first bolt we’d seen anywhere near us,” said Harrington.

But one was all it took to shoot Harrington and Ponder off of the rock ledge they were about to climb down. “I had the sensation of being compressed by a pressure wave,” said Harrington.

Harrington says he felt paralyzed but never fully lost consciousness. “I landed in the tree, that saved my life, probably,” said Harrington.

Ponder was not so lucky. “I blacked out when I got hit,” said Ponder.

Ponder fell down 10-12 feet straight onto a pile of rocks and hardly remembers anything. However, the aftermath of the bolt is burned into the memory of Ponder’s girlfriend.

“I was just praying up on the mountain, just because I didn’t know,” said Yvette Martinez-Ingram, Ponder’s girlfriend.

Mostly unconscious and bleeding heavily, Ponder was airlifted to UNMH. “I could tell that I was in trouble,” said Ponder.

For the next five days, Ponder fought. “Just [thinking about] survival,” said Ponder.

Burns and bruises are visible on both men, but Ponder’s brain injury will need much longer to heal. Still, Ponder is happy to be home and both men are thankful to be alive.

“I’m lucky to be alive. I’m not lucky to be hit by lightning,” said Harrington.

Harrington was taken to the hospital but did not have to spend the night. Meanwhile, after the airlift and the five-day ER bill, Ponder is stuck with an $80,000 medical bill.

Ponder owns a local bike shop and needs help covering that cost. To donate, click here.