'Don't Let Me Die,' Lightning Victim Pleads

Texas Man Recovering From Colorado Accident

A gold chain and crucifix melted around his neck when a lightning bolt struck Jason Crawford in the head while he and his brother were riding dirt bikes in Gunnison County.

The bolt melted part of his helmet, fractured his skull and left burn scars on his chest and left arm.

Still, Crawford knows it could have been worse. Doctors told him if he hadn't had his helmet on, he would have died. Even with the helmet, it took 30 stitches to close a wound in his head caused by the freak lighting strike.

Jason Crawford, 31, and his brother John, 36, from Houston, Texas, were riding dirt bikes in the Taylor Park area of Gunnison County a week ago when the bolt came out of the blue. Jason said they were on Italian Creek Pass when it started sprinkling and the bolt came without warning.

John told the Grand Junction Sentinel that the lightning strike caused Jason to do a back flip off his motorbike and twist in the air before he landed on the ground, unable to move.

John said he didn't know what to do and started screaming for help. Incredibly, a U.S. Forest Service ranger was nearby, heard the yells and came to their aid. He quickly used his two-way radio to call for an ambulance.

Then several other dirt-bikers rode up and one was a doctor who checked out Jason's vital signs. Luckily, his heart hadn't stopped beating and Jason finally managed to talk. His first words after the accident were, "Don't let me die."

He asked about the gold chain and crucifix that his mother had given him when he took his first communion. The chain had melted, burning a rope pattern in his skin.

It took the ambulance an hour to arrive at the remote location. After it carried Jason to Gunnison Valley Hospital he was treated and then airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo. He was released a few days later but doctors still don't know the extent of the damage, due to scar tissue and unhealed injuries. He still can't hear in one ear.

His brother, John, said it was a fluke that the lightning hit.

"What are the chances of being struck by lightning on a moving bike," John told the Sentinel. "You can’t prepare for that."

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