Woman says husband saved her after being struck by lightning

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — A woman in Catawba County is calling her husband a hero on Monday night after his quick thinking during a thunderstorm along the Blue Ridge Parkway saved her life.

If you're driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, it is hard to miss the tree hit by lightning at an overlook.

Park rangers believe the lightning traveled down through the tree and out through its roots before striking the couple.

"I don't know if you can tell," said Bonnie Elander, showing us where the lightning went in through her feet leaving burn marks on her skin.

She and her husband had gone to the North Carolina mountains on his motorcycle to see the Linville Falls last Thursday but never made it because of the weather.

She remembers little about the trip, including the strike that hit the tree, causing it to split open.

"I don't remember the storm itself or stopping to get off the bike to take cover," said Elander.

Her husband, Greg, said it was raining so hard they pulled off at the Grandfather Overlook, a remote area on the parkway -- the nearest shelter is miles away.

They knew to stay away from the tree but because the lightning traveled through the ground it didn't matter.

Greg, who learned CPR when he was younger, started chest compressions after finding his wife not breathing.

"I didn't want to lose her and I knew our kids needed her. I told her it was like a dog with a bone and I wasn't going to let her go," said Greg.

Elander has to wear a back brace now after the strike traveled though her body, fracturing her sternum and her back.

She is thankful to be alive and doesn't hesitate to describe her husband's actions.

"He's definitely a hero and I thank him every day of my life and I would not be here without his efforts to revive me," she said.

The couple is very thankful to people who stopped to help and risked their lives during the storm including the EMTs and firefighters here in Avery County.