I guess people do not understand the inherent danger in lightning storms. The last thing you want to do in a lightning storm is go to a mountain peak.
He never got to pop the question.
Richard Butler was hiking up a North Carolina mountain with girlfriend Bethany Lott – and an engagement ring in his pocket – when lightning struck.
“God, baby, look how beautiful it is,” Lott said of the mountain vista just before the bolt hit her.
Those turned out to be her last words.
Butler, who was also hit, said “everything went black” and when he opened his eyes again “she was laying a few feet away.”
“I crawled to her,” he told the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper. “I did CPR for probably 15 minutes and the whole time was trying her cell phone, but I couldn’t get anything out.”
Later, when the paramedics arrived, a badly-burned Butler used what remained of his strength to perform one last act of love.
“I put the ring on her finger while the EMTs were working on her,” he told the newspaper. “They are listing me as her fiancé in the obituaries.”
Butler, 30, and Lott, 25, both of Knoxville, Tenn., had set off for the summit of Max Patch Bald on Friday when it started to rain.
“I picked that spot because she actually said she would like to get married there,” Butler told a local TV station. “She absolutely loved the outdoors.”
And Lott was not deterred by the stormy weather.
“She hiked thousands of miles and spent a couple of years in Utah just hiking,” Butler’s mother, Janet Delaney, said.
Then lightning bolts creased the sky and one of them hit the lovebirds.
“I was spun 180 degrees and thrown several feet back,” Butler said. “My legs turned to Jello, my shoes were smoking and the bottom of my feet felt like they were on fire.”
Another Knoxville couple raced over and also tried to revive the doomed hiker.
“They stood on the top of the hill doing what they could for probably 20 minutes until the rescuers got there,” Butler said.
But there was no saving Lott, who was to be buried at a Tennessee cemetery on Tuesday with a view of the mountains she loved in the distance.
“I’ve tried to be mad at God, but I can’t do it,” Butler, who suffered third degree burns, said before the funeral. “I feel like it is my obligation to her to be as happy as I can be and be as productive with the rest of my life as can be, and do as much good as she would’ve done if she could have.”