A CHP helicopter that landed near Muir Trail Ranch to retrieve the body of Nicholas Torchia, who was struck by lightning.
A CHP helicopter that landed near Muir Trail Ranch to retrieve the body of Nicholas Torchia, who was struck by lightning.
A 37-year-old man was struck and killed by lightning near the John Muir Trail in Fresno County on Friday afternoon.

The man was identified as Nicholas Torchia of Fresno. The Fresno County Coroner's Office determined Torchia died by electrocution caused by lightning.

Torchia was struck by lightning near Muir Trail Ranch, a remote, roadless location east of Florence Lake, while he was on the Sallie Keyes Cutoff, a short segment between the John Muir Trail and Florence Lake Trail.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office got a call about the incident around 2:20 p.m. Friday and Torchia's body was recovered around 6 p.m. once a California Highway Patrol helicopter was able to fly in during a break in the storm, sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti said.

"Torchia took cover by leaning against a tree," Botti said, "a tree which was then struck by a lightning bolt. Torchia fell to the ground. His fellow hikers came to check on him and he told them he didn't feel well and then became unconscious. A doctor and a nurse who were on the trail tended to Torchia by administering CPR for three hours. Despite their great efforts, he ultimately passed away."

Stacy Corless, a Mono County supervisor, was at Muir Trail Ranch then and said her friend was the doctor who administered CPR. Corless hopes the family takes some comfort knowing medical professionals were there with him, in addition to a pastor who was hiking the John Muir Trail. No one else was injured by the lightning strike.

Lt. Kathy Curtice, in charge of the Fresno County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team, said she's unaware of anyone else ever being struck by lightning in Fresno County, although afternoon thunderstorms are common in the Sierra Nevada. Her career in search and rescue spans a couple of decades.

In 2017, a family camping farther south, around Jennie Lake in Tulare County, were struck by lightning and survived.

Muir Trail Ranch is a popular resupply spot in the John Muir Wilderness for hikers on the John Muir Trail, which spans 211 miles from Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney. Much of it overlaps the longer Pacific Crest Trail.

Officials on Monday weren't sure where Torchia was heading or had been. Corless said she heard from others who were fairly certain he had been hiking the John Muir Trail.