*Re "Judge Awards $700,000 in Hiker's Death," July 14:

Stupidity pays. This came to mind when I learned of the damages awarded to the victims of the July 14, 1990, lightning storm on Mt. Whitney. Rather than receive government compensation, they should instead assume the full cost of their rescue.

I was on the summit that day; the impending storm was evident at least two hours prior to the lightning. As I quickly descended from the mountain, I passed these individuals and others blithely hiking up to the summit area and into the building storm. Is it sensible to be on the high point of the continental U.S. during a violent thunderstorm? These hikers should not profit from poor judgment that placed themselves and their rescuers at risk.


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