Haunting image shows family grinning with hair standing on end moments before being struck by lightning
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A haunting image of two brothers and their sister grinning while showing their crazy-looking static hair during a hike was taken moments before disaster struck.
Michael McQuilken, 18 and his brother Sean, 12, hiked to the top of Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, California on 20 August 1975 along with their older brother Jeff, their sister Mary, 15, and her friend Margie.
The group went on their trip with an old Kodak Instamatic camera to capture their memories, including their hair, but the teens were completely unaware of the tragedy that was about to happen.
In the moment they seemed to be having the best time, like anyone else would.
Recalling the trip, Michael told NBC News: “I took a photo of Mary, and Mary took a photo of Sean and me. I raised my right hand into the air and the ring I had on began to buzz so loudly that everyone could hear it.”
The teens noticed that the temperature suddenly dropped and they all agreed it would be best to make the trek back down the mountain.
But they didn’t get very far...
Before they could make it back down the mountain a giant bolt of electricity came down from the sky and electrocuted both Michael and Sean.
Michael was able to remember the terrifying feeling after being struck, describing how he felt as though he was being lifted off the ground for several seconds before falling back down to Earth.
Meanwhile, his younger brother had been knocked unconscious and smoke was coming from his back and elbows as he was huddled on his knees.
Michael urgently put out the fires on Sean’s body and carried his brother down to the parking lot. Miraculously he survived but suffered third-degree burns. When Michael was able to check on him he still had a pulse and was breathing.
Everyone in the group survived the scary freak accident. The pictures from their Kodak captured were sent to local rangers, who then used them in handouts warning hikers about the dangers of lightning strikes atop the granite peaks in the Californian national park.
The electrical charges in the atmosphere right before the lightning strikes lead to static coursing through the air, causing hair to become frazzled and stand on end.
"We were from San Diego and really stupid," Michael shared. "We thought it was something funny."
Lightning is no laughing matter, as the National Weather Service states: “If your hair stands on end, lightning is about to strike you. Drop to your knees and bend forward but don’t lie flat on the ground. We ground is a good conductor of electricity.”
After losing his brother Sean to suicide in 1989, Michael, who is now 66, has become an advocate for safety when hiking, especially weather situations.