'I feel like I'm going to die': Three Truckee brothers survive lightning strike

Truckee man Austin Murtha after being struck by lightning earlier this month in Washington. (Courtesy: Greg Murtha)

Three Truckee brothers set out to conquer the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail last month, but their journey nearly took a fatal turn.

Just over a week after leaving the Canadian border and heading south, the Murtha brothers encountered a severe storm while they were 55 miles from civilization.

Greg Murtha, the father of Dylan, Austin and Garrett, said that instead of continuing to hike on a granite face, the boys opted to take cover in the forest.

"Dylan said it was about a half hour of just a firestorm of lightning all around them."

While they were setting up camp for the night, a bolt of lightning bounced off a tree and hit 20-year-old Austin, throwing him 15-20 feet and knocking him unconscious, Greg said.

Despite suffering second-degree burns, cuts and possibly a concussion, Greg said Austin was mostly fine, and the boys hiked out the next day.

"I was struck by lightning. It was crazy but I'm alive," Austin said in a cellphone video recorded after the strike.

The brothers hiked the 55 miles into Skykomish, Washington, where Austin was checked out by a doctor and cleared to continue the trek.

"We could be having a completely different conversation right now if they weren't as lucky as they were," Greg said.

Austin and his brothers are expected to pass through the Tahoe area around the Labor Day holiday, when they will be reunited with their parents before continuing toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

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