Lightning ruled out in camp fatality

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

Authorities have identified a Tuolumne County woman who died Monday at a campground near Dardanelle.

Witnesses reported her being struck by lightning during a brief rainstorm before 4 p.m. However, the Tuolumne County Coroner later determined that she had not been hit by lightning and planned an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Christine Ann Adrian, 66, of Crystal Falls, a popular Sonora bartender, died at Baker Campground, about 30 miles east of Pinecrest in the Stanislaus National Forest.

At 3:52 p.m., sheriff's dispatchers received an emergency call for service regarding Adrian, who was unconscious and receiving CPR after reportedly being "struck by lightning," according to a Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office statement released Tuesday morning.

Cal Fire and ambulance personnel were dispatched, but Adrian had died by the time first responders arrived on scene, the statement said.

The county coroner arrived sometime later and determined that Adrian had not suffered a direct hit because there were no obvious entry or exit wounds that would be associated with being struck by lightning, the statement said.

Some family members reported that lightning struck the trees above their campsite, while others were standing next to Adrian at the time and were not affected, the statement said.

Richelle Serrano, who works at the Dardanelle Resort roughly four miles from the campground, said a brief rainstorm with thunder and lightning strikes rolled into the area about 3:45 p.m. Monday and cleared less than 30 minutes later.

"Up here, it will move in really fast," Serrano said of the stormy weather. "The clouds get dark and everything will just break loose."

Adrian, a bartender for the past 12 years at Zane's Iron Horse Lounge in downtown Sonora, was remembered Tuesday by friends and co-workers.

"She was amazing," said Jason Raines, a daytime bartender at the lounge. "No one hated her. It was impossible to hate her."

Raines said Adrian enjoyed camping and spending time with her two dogs, Miha and Kodak, who were with her on the camping trip along with her daughter, Nicolette Nomof, Nomof's son and a longtime friend.

Travis Jahncke, a family friend, said Nomof had told him that the lightning struck "right in between" her and Adrian, and that the coroner believed the shock of the event might have caused a heart attack.

He also said Adrian had been hospitalized a year before with a serious illness but had made a surprise recovery.

"It was hard to see her go through that last year," he said. "For her to pass the way she did, doing something she loved, it was really a good way to pass on."

It is the second death of a Zane's bartender this year. On Feb. 20, Eugene "Gerry" Cummings, died of a heart attack while driving in Columbia.

A potluck to commemorate Cummings was held at the bar after his death and Raines said there will likely be a similar event in honor of Adrian.

Jahncke said Adrian's death will have an impact on the regulars who knew her.

"It's really tight knit around here, like a family, and she was good to us," he said.

Nomof said services for Adrian are being planned for later this month and notifications will be sent to friends and family.

The Union Democrat
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