A TREE-PLANTING activity turns tragic as one person died while three others are in critical condition after they were hit by a lightning in Sitio Don Jose, Barangay Manlucahok in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental around 3:30 p.m. Friday, June 17.

The fatality was identified as Christian Escarlan, 20 years old.

Injured were Johnrey Villacora, 21; Cristina Lavilla, 20; and their 16-year-old male companion.

Dionilo Bogtae, executive assistant on public safety of Sipalay City, said the victims were walking towards the area where they were supposed to plant trees as part of the government’s National Greening Program.

Bogtae, also the head of the Sipalay Emergency and Rescue Services (Sears), said they actually have other companions, who are mostly teenagers, but the victims walked ahead of others.

“It suddenly rained followed by a strong lightning and thunder,” he said, adding that the four victims then fell on the ground and passed out.

It took a while for the rescuers to reach the area. They have to walk about two kilometers going to the upland sitio, Bogtae said.

“Except for some bruises, the victims actually had no wounds but they felt very weak to the point that they can no longer stand or even move,” he said, adding that “the lightning possibly did not hit them directly but the impact was so strong.”

Escarlan died on the spot.

The three other victims were brought to the hospital. They are currently under observation.

Bogtae reminded residents to avoid going outside the house, especially to open fields, when rain suddenly falls following extreme hot weather.

“Though it’s unpredictable, the lightning usually occur during such a phenomenon,” he added.