Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla. Photo: Instagram
Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla. Photo: Instagram

Backpacker killed by lightning on 'trip of lifetime'

THEY were on a holiday of a lifetime in Australia - eight weeks into a year-long, gap year trip when the unthinkable happened.

Sam Beattie was killed by lightning on the summit of Mt Warning.

His partner Michele Segalla spent the next three hours huddled and crying beside his body.

They had been camped in a small tent on top of the 1156m mountain just south of the Queensland-NSW border.

Lightning struck the tree to which the tent was tied just before 5am NSW time (3.50am Qld time).

Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla. Photo: Facebook
Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla. Photo: Facebook

Mr Beattie, 24, whose feet had been resting on the tree, was killed instantly.

Two hikers arrived at the summit about 15 minutes later to hear Ms Segalla crying.

The 23-year-old's hair had been singed.

One of the hikers raced back down the track for help, while the second began CPR on Mr Beattie.

He continued with the lifesaving attempt for more than an hour before conceding the inevitable.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reports that Sam and Michele had packed their lives into five bags on October 5 and had flown to Sydney for a 12-month backpacking trip.

Beattie, a University Of Denver grad, and Segalla, a Fordham University alum, had both been hired at music deals website Popmarket in October, as a customer service representative and analyst, the Daily Mail reported.

They bought a van, dubbed Barry White, in which they planned to live as they travelled along the coast, camping near the beach each night.

The pair arrived on the Gold Coast early last month but wasted no time in visiting Stradbroke Island, Point Lookout and Rainbow Beach, before driving to Byron Bay a few days ago.

Sam Beattie at Rainbow Beach. Picture: Instagram
Sam Beattie at Rainbow Beach. Picture: Instagram

Not even having a moon boot on his right foot early in their adventure could stop Sam from joining Michele and sliding down a Currumbin water hole, referring to it as "#rehab".

They swam with dolphins at Stradbroke Island and last Tuesday sipped wine in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

A quote on Michele's Instagram bio summed up the pair's fearless lifestyle.

"You never slow down, you never grow old," it read.

Beattie's father arrived in the country on Tuesday afternoon during a pre-booked trip and was informed of his son's death.

Earlier Tweed/Bryon LAC Superintendent Wayne Starling praised the efforts of the teens who had done their best under "traumatic circumstances".

"They've got to be proud of the effort they made to save another human's life," Supt Starling said.