Families of Lightning Victims Grateful to Rescuers

By Beacon Staff

The families of the hikers who were injured by a lightning strike in Glacier National Park are grateful to other park visitors who performed CPR and called for medical help.

Travis Heitman, of Kalispell, Kensey Leishman, of Missoula and an 11-year-old boy Heitman is mentoring are hospitalized in Kalispell to recover from injuries suffered in the strike late Wednesday afternoon.

“We could be planning funerals today,” if not for the hikers’ quick actions, Kensey’s father, Jason Leishman, of Huson, told the Missoulian on Thursday.

“They’re pretty sore and shook up, and not making a lot of sense yet,” Jason Leishman said in an interview at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. “They’re pretty lucky, is what they are. It could have been a lot worse.”

Jason Leishman and Heitman’s father, Kent Heitman, of Kalispell, said the last thing any of the three remembers is they were hurrying back to the vehicle because a storm was coming.

“My son is the one with the most memory,” Kent Heitman told The Daily Inter Lake. “The other two are having trouble even knowing what happened. They’re still having some memory issues from the electricity.”

The trio was hiking on the St. Mary Falls Trail on the east side of the park on Wednesday afternoon when lightning struck nearby.

“There were no entry or exit wounds,” Kent Heitman said. “It was more like a flash hit they took. They are bruised up from crumpling to the ground.”

A pediatrician was among the first hikers to come upon the three, who were about three-quarters of a mile from the trailhead when they were injured.

The strike was reported at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, but the three didn’t arrive at the hospital until 8 p.m. or later.

The three are expected to remain in the hospital for several days. They are hurting and have experienced extreme fatigue, so they’ve have been sleeping a lot, Kent Heitman said.

Kensey Leishman is a nurse at Community Medical Center in Missoula while Travis Heitman works at Summit Medical and Youth Dynamics in Kalispell.

Jason Leishman said he would like to talk to the hikers whose quick actions likely saved the life of his daughter, her fellow 2008 Frenchtown High School graduate and the boy and personally thank them.

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