Hikers struck by lightning in Jemez; one seriously injured

Bruce Ponder

Two men were struck by lightning last weekend while hiking in the Jemez Mountains, and one was left with serious injuries.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office sent a rescue helicopter to help the men, who were with a group of hikers a mile away from returning to their cars, when the lightning hit, according to a report by KOB-TV.

“Weather started coming in, we started to hustle down,” Bruce Ponder told KOB-TV. “As soon as that happened, we just got hit.”

Ponder’s friend Don Harrington, who also was struck, told KOB, “All of a sudden, just boom. I had the sensation of flying through the air.”

Ponder and Harrington were knocked off a ledge 10 to 12 feet toward rocks below. Harrington landed safely in a tree, while Ponder’s head struck the rocks, according to a GoFundMe page raising money for Ponder’s medical expenses.

Ponder was left bleeding profusely and not breathing, the GoFundMe page said. The other hikers revived him twice and summoned help.

He suffered a brain injury and severe electrical burns and had to be airlifted to a hospital, where he spent four days in critical care, according to the GoFundMe page.

Ponder is known in Albuquerque’s cycling and custom bike community and is the owner of Loco Bikes & Scooters near Nob Hill. He has been working on creating “a new generation of artistically-styled, electric-assist bicycles,” the fundraising page said, and “is now facing an insurmountable mountain of bills.”

As of Saturday afternoon, the GoFundMe page had raised more than $4,000 for Ponder.