Tributes to woman killed by Lochaber lightning strike

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The Nevis Hillwalking Club and the Lochaber and Lorn Ramblers group have issued a statement expressing their shock and sadness at the death of member, Isobel Bytautas, who died at the weekend after being struck by lightning.

Mrs Bytautas, 55, from Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, had been walking in the Mamore Range, near Kinlochleven, with a party from Linlithgow Ramblers.

The walking clubs stated: ‘Members from local walking clubs – Nevis Hillwalking Club and Lochaber and Lorn Ramblers -who walked with Isobel knew her as a keen, strong and enthusiastic hillwalker, and a competent, well trained and trustworthy companion.

‘She will be sorely missed.  Our thoughts are of her family and friends, especially those who dealt with the horror of this incident.’

Another woman from the walking group, who was also struck by lightning, was taken to Belford Hospital,in Fort William.

Mrs Bytautas’ daughter, Ashley, wrote on Facebook of her heartbreak over the freak incident that took her mother’s life.

‘Mum died instantly, a freak one in a million accident you never think is possible. Can’t imagine life without her, I’m lost,’ she said.

Police were alerted to the incident at 5.42pm and called in help from HM Coastguard helicopter, Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, the Scottish Ambulance service Helimed and ambulances.

The party was traced on Na Gruagaichean and the two casualties and the rest of their party were airlifted to Fort William.

A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Inspector Isla Campbell, Local Area Policing Inspector for Lochaber, said: ‘We are grateful for the prompt and professional response from partner agencies to this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the lady’s family.’

Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team leader Andy Nelson told reporters Mrs Bytautas had been incredibly unlucky.

‘The group were just in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It was a short-lived thunderstorm, it lasted about 20 minutes. It was a very heavy sky, there was a flash and then the rumble. We saw a lightning flash,’ he said.

‘The party got straight through to raise the alarm by mobile phone. I can’t recall another death in Scotland’s mountains caused by lightning. It is common in the Alps, and a known risk, but we do not usually get the weather conditions in Scotland on the hills.’

Mr Nelson advised those out in the mountains that if they see or hear electrical activity coming towards them, they should descend immediately from any high ground as soon as is practicable and safe.