Lightning strikes man pushing baby stroller in Kern County

Investigators examine the scene where a woman and her two dogs were killed by a lightning strike.
Investigators examine an area along the San Gabriel River in Pico Rivera, where a woman and her two dogs were killed by a lightning strike on Wednesday.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

A Kern County man was injured by a lightning strike while out walking his dog and pushing a baby in a stroller early Wednesday, the same day a woman and her two dogs were killed after being hit by lightning in Pico Rivera, authorities said.

The unidentified man was struck by lightning while walking in his neighborhood in Ridgecrest, east of Bakersfield, according to the Ridgecrest Police Department. The man survived and the baby and the dog were unharmed, police said.

When police arrived at the scene about 7:40 a.m., they found an individual performing CPR on the unconscious man, according to Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin. The man was eventually revived and transported to a local hospital.

His condition was not immediately known.

Less than two hours later and 150 miles south, 52-year-old Antonia Mendoza Chavez and her two dogs were struck and killed by lightning in Pico Rivera, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.


Chavez was walking on a trail along the San Gabriel River when she was struck by lightning just before 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to authorities. A passerby first alerted emergency officials after noticing Chavez on the ground, but first responders were unable to revive her upon arrival. Authorities identified several singed holes marring an asphalt pathway where the lighting strike had occurred.

Chavez’s death was the nation’s first recorded lightning fatality this year, according to the National Lightning Safety Council. Fatal strikes are still quite rare, but have occurred between 11 and 40 times a year over the last decade, according to the group.

Wednesday’s thunderstorms arrived earlier than the typical monsoon season in Southern California, meteorologist David Sweet with the National Weather Service in Oxnard said.

“Yesterday’s thunderstorms were far above the normal amount that one would see in California this time of year,” Sweet said.

Typically, monsoon season doesn’t arrive until mid-July, which can see thunderstorms and lightning strikes.

“We have this bit of advice, sort of a rhyme for people to remember: ‘If thunder roars, go indoors.’ We’re talking about a good, sturdy building or even a car can be a safe place in a thunderstorm,” Sweet said.