Girlfriend killed by lightning minutes before Knox man's proposal

Girlfriend killed by lightning minutes before Knoxville man's proposal

Posted: Updated:
Bethany Lott (source: Richard Butler) Bethany Lott (source: Richard Butler)
"Her last words, about 30 seconds before it struck us, she turned to me and said, 'God baby, look at it. Isn't it beautiful?'" Richard Butler says. "Her last words, about 30 seconds before it struck us, she turned to me and said, 'God baby, look at it. Isn't it beautiful?'" Richard Butler says.

By HARLOW SUMERFORD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville man was minutes from proposing to his girlfriend on a hike in Western North Carolina Friday when she was struck and killed by lightning.

"Everything went black. I was spun 180 degrees, thrown several feet back. My legs turned to jelly. My shoes were smoking and the bottom of my feet felt like they were on fire," Richard Butler said.

For a moment, he said he thought he was the only one hit by the bolt of lightning.

However, it was his girlfriend Bethany Lott, 25, who took the direct hit. She was hiking just a few feet in front of him.

"I crawled to her, rolled her over. They say she was gone automatically, but I tried CPR for probably 15 minutes," Butler says.

He says they were nearly to the top of Max Patch Bald, a place Bethany was taking him for the first time.

The bald is on Max Patch Mountain, 40 miles west of Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest. The Appalachian Trail crosses it.

Friday was supposed to mark the beginning of the couple's life together. Butler had a ring and was planning to propose.

"I picked that spot because she actually said she would like to get married there. She absolutely loved the outdoors. Her last words, about 30 seconds before it struck us, she turned to me and said, 'God baby, look at it. Isn't it beautiful?'"

Butler says Lott loved nature and saw beauty in everything around her.

He's struggling with her unexpected death, but says, "I've tried to be mad at God, but I can't do it. I feel like it is my obligation to her to be as happy as I can be and be as productive with the rest of my life as can be and do as much good as she would've done if she could have."

Butler says after the lightning strike, a couple named Dean and Mary Farmer, from Knoxville rushed to help them at the risk of their own lives.

After news reports, Butler was able thank them. At first, he only knew their first names.

Butler's feet were still so swollen Monday, he had to cut off part of his tennis shoe.

Services for Bethany Lott are planned for Tuesday at Coffey Funeral Home in New Tazewell. The family will receive friends from noon to 2:00 p.m.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.