Two men killed in 'very rare' separate lightning strikes

image copyrightWales News Service
image captionRobin Meakings and Jeremy Prescott died in separate lightning strikes

A walker has relived the moment he saw his friend die after being struck by lightning in "exceptional weather conditions" on the Brecon Beacons which also claimed the life of another man.

Robin Meakings, 59, from Surrey, died while adjusting his walking pole when a "bright white flash and intensely loud, deafening whip crack sound" hit him.

Jeremy Prescott, 51, from Telford, Shropshire, died on another peak.

The Brecon inquest heard nothing could have prevented the 5 July deaths.

Coroner Andrew Barkley said such deaths were "very rare", but two so close were "remarkable".

Their inquests at Brecon Coroner's Court heard weather conditions that day had started out fine but took a sudden turn for the worse.

Teacher Mr Meakings was also struck by lightning as he prepared to descend the 2,580ft high peak Cribyn.

William Belcher, 46, had been on an adventure holiday with Mr Meakings and friend Nicholas Earl.

Mr Belcher said: "Robin was adjusting his walking poles, which were down by his side - and Nic was helping.

"All of a sudden there was this bright white flash and an intensely loud, deafening whip crack sound and at the same time there was a fizzle.

"At that moment I felt like a huge weight had squashed me and my legs went all wobbly.

"I could then smell something like burnt leather or bacon.

"Nic went flying forwards while Robin was motionless on his back.

"I was panicking, shouting at both of them 'wake up, wake up'.

"The force of the strike had blown his jacket open and there was discolouration of his chest. At that moment I knew he had gone."

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Earl, who was holding the same pole at the time, described feeling as if his body was "on fire inside and out" as he was thrown into the air.

Moments earlier, Mr Prescott was hit by a bolt while manning a checkpoint on Corn Ddu 1.2 miles (2km) away as part of a Duke of Edinburgh Awards activity.

Eyewitnesses said the force of the strike was such that it threw him into the air and melted his shirt.

image copyrightKenneth Yarham | Geograph
image captionMr Meakings was in a walking party on Cribyn when he was struck by lightning

Fellow youth worker Gaynor Hogarth was just steps away from her colleague and friend when the lightning hit.

She described it as like someone switching on "a fluorescent tube of light", which she said came without warning.

She attempted CPR but said there was no response.

Coroner Mr Barkley said there was nothing to indicate the walking trips were ill-advised and the deaths were the result of "exceptional weather conditions which could not have been predicted or controlled".

He concluded both men died as a result of being struck by lightning.

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