Lightning strike kills tour guide, 36, in Rio de Janeiro

  • Tour guide Leilson de Souza was struck by lightning and killed in Rio de Janeiro
  • De Souza was leading hikers when they stopped by rocks in Tijuca National Park
  • The 36-year-old – who had been giving tours for 10 years – was declared dead

An experienced tour guide has been killed by a freak lightning strike in Brazil after he warned his group it would rain.

Leilson de Souza, 36, was leading hikers through a trail at Tijuca National Park lin Rio de Janeiro when he was he was jolted Sunday morning.

Karlla Araújo, 26, was recording a selfie video and showed the group standing on top of a large rock and de Souza pacing over another moments before he was struck.

A loud sound could be heard in the background as the woman screamed instantaneously before the video came to an end.

Leilson de Souza was killed by a lightning strike while he was leading a group of hikers through a trail in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday

Leilson de Souza was standing over a rock when he was struck by lightning at Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro. He was declared dead on the scene

Karlla Araújo (pictured) was recording a video selfie in which her tour guide Leilson de Souza could be seen standing on a rock by himself moments before he was struck by lightning and killed

Araújo told Brazilian online news outlet G1 that de Souza told them that it was going to rain in the afternoon and that since the weather could change from an hour to the next that it would be ok for them to keep on hiking.

The group followed de Souza, who has been giving tours for 10 years, decided to take on the two-hour hike to the top of the peak when as it started to rain midway through their trek.

‘He asked if we wanted to continue and everyone decided, yes.’ Araújo said. ‘The guide said there was a chance to get out to the end and have a view in the sun.’

An air ambulance was dispatched to the site, but de Souza was dead by the time paramedics had arrived.

The hikers were escorted by one of Souza’s brothers, who is also taking a course to become a tour guide.

‘We were in total despair. I wanted to go down but at the same time I was afraid, because more lightning could strike,’ Araújo said.

De Souza enjoyed the sport of hiking and was studying environmental management in college.

Leilson de Souza had told hikers that there was a chance that it would rain during their trek through Tijuca National Park

A group of hikers' trek through Tijuca National Park ended in tragedy Sunday when their tour guide Leilson de Souza (top right) was killed by lightning

Leilson de Souza had ben giving tour guides to hikers in Rio de Janeiro for 10 years

One of his greatest feats was scaling up Dedo dec Deus, a 5,551-foot mountain at Serra dos Órgãos National Park in Rio de Janeiro, in June.

One of his siblings, Leonado Barros, told Brazilian outlet Globo that the family had trouble accepting de Souza had been killed by a lightning strike.

‘At the time, we didn’t believe it. But, with the way it happened, we would never have imagined it,’ he said. ‘We imagine dying anyway, passing away anyway, but by lightning, it’s complicated. 

‘He was an excellent person, he did everything for everyone, he was a guy who always wanted to take special people, elderly people, everything out on the trail. His business was mountaineering, it was nature.’t

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that at least 40 million lightning strikes hit the ground in the United States each year.

The chances of being struck by lightning each year are less than one in a million, and at least 90 percent of the victims do survive.

National Weather Service data shows that in 2023, 13 people have been killed by lightning strikes in the United States, including three people in separate boating and swimming incidents.

Froilanis Rivas, a 34-year-old mother-of-two, was killed last Tuesday after she was struck by lightning on a beach in the town Barranquilla, Colombia. on 

The Venezuela native was standing near the show when she was jolted and crashed to the sand. Rivas went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to a local hospital, where doctors attempted to revive her before she was pronounced dead.

In September, a Mexican woman and a hammock seller were killed by lighting at a beach in Michoacán, Mexico.

Elvia de Jesús was walking behind her husband after they came out of the water when she and the seller, Felix Andres, were hit by a bolt of lightening on Maruata Beach. Both victims were pronounced dead on the scene.


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