Early Tuesday morning a severe storm that swept throughout NSW claimed the life of a backpacker eight weeks into a trip of a lifetime with his partner. Sam Beattie was camping on Mt Warning just south of the Queensland-NSW border when the storm hit.The rugged campsite at the top of the 1156m mountain has no mobile reception and can take hikers more than three hours to access.
It was here, huddled and cradling the body of her partner, that two teenage hikers found Michele Segalla.
Next to her was the dead body of her boyfriend of several years.The 23-year-old employee of music deals website Popmarket survived the lightning strike with only minor injuries, but her partner, New Yorker Sam Beattie, 24, died instantly.
The Courier Mail reports that Mr Beattie died when lightning hit the tree to which the couple’s tent was tied at around 3.50am.Two hikers found Ms Segalla with singed hair, crying, devastated over the death of her partner.
One of the hikers went for help while the other performed CPR on Mr Beattie, but sadly it was too late.
The couple were eight weeks into a gap year trip that took them around Australia in a van. On social media they had documented their trip taking in the Gold Coast, Stradbroke Island, Point Lookout and Rainbow Beach and had only recently arrived in Byron Bay.An Instagram video of Mr Beattie shows him with his foot in a splint, sliding down a waterfall at Currumbin Waters in Queensland.
His zest for life reflected in his caption:
“Yeah doc, staying off it as much as I can...”
The second teenager hiker received a signal on his mobile phone when part-way down the 8.8km track and alerted authorities.Tweed/Bryon LAC Superintendent Wayne Starling told the Tweed News that the two teens who tried to save Sam Beattie had done their best.
"They've got to be proud of the effort they made to save another human's life," Supt Starling said.
"They should have no baggage from what happened up on the mountain today. The lady didn't appear to be seriously injured at the time.”
"Their main priority was trying to save the male that was deceased."
Supt Starling said that lighting had killed Mr Beattie instantly.
"They'd pitched their tent to a tree and just shortly prior to 4.50am this morning lightning struck the tree and went through the tree," he said.
"It appears it may have touched the male's seat in the tent and sadly killed him."
Sam Beattie's body was brought down from Mt Warning by stretcher.
The Courier Mail reports that SES chaplain Paul von Bratt said Michele Segalla was taking it hard and was in the care of a “support network”.