Backpacker killed by lightning strike on Australian mountain

New Yorkers Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla were travelling across Australia Image copyright Facebook
Image caption American tourists Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla

An American backpacker has been killed by lightning while camping on an Australian mountain summit.

The 24-year-old man died instantly when lightning struck a tree above his tent on Mt Warning, in northern New South Wales, early on Tuesday, police said.

Local media named the victim as Sam Beattie, from New York.

His girlfriend, Michele Segalla, was also in the tent and suffered head and neck injuries.

The tourists arrived in Australia eight weeks ago and planned to spend a year travelling across the country in a campervan, reports said.

The alarm was raised when two hikers heard Ms Segalla crying in the tent about 15 minutes after Mr Beattie died.

Police said the hikers spent more than an hour trying to resuscitate Mr Beattie, but he had been killed instantly.

Ms Segalla was treated for head and neck injuries and taken to Murwillumbah Base Hospital.

'Just a tragedy'

It took a rescue team of 25 people nearly two hours to carry Mr Beattie's body from the summit.

Camping is not permitted on the 1550m (5000ft) mountain and hikers are discouraged from ascending the summit during thunderstorms.

"I'm not judgemental of the people in any way whatsoever, " police superintendent Wayne Starling told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Regardless of whether they should be there or not, it's just a tragedy to lose a life."

Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

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