Lightning strike injures man |

Lightning strike injures man

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A walk to roll up some windows ended when a bolt of lightning sent a 65-year-old man to Barton Memorial Hospital on Wednesday.

Doug Vorpahl, from Paradise, Calif., knew a storm was coming when he looked overhead and saw a dark, threatening cloud. Before rain dropped, Vorpahl began walking toward his camper parked among countless trailers at Tahoe Valley Campground.

Vorpahl had taken about 10 steps when a bolt of lightning split the trunk of a tree and struck the ground near his feet, witnesses said.

“There was a terrible explosion,” said Jan Wallace, part of the 24-member RV group Vorpahl was with. “Sparks flew all over the place.”

Vorpahl fell limp on his face. Blood trickled from his mouth and a lump swelled above his eye. A hole, about the circumference of an adult fist and a half-inch deep, was found on the road where the bolt touched asphalt.

Vorpahl was listed in stable but guarded condition at Barton.

South Lake Tahoe Fire Department responded to the call at 3:48 p.m. with an engine and ambulance. Campers held a tarp over a conscious Vorpahl until help arrived. Off-duty firefighters and a nurse provided medical attention.

Greg Gstettenbauer, acting captain at South Lake Tahoe Fire Department, said the call was new to him.

“This is the first one in my 14 years and everyone else I’ve talked to never witnessed (one),” he said. “I think it’s probably a first.”

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