Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla.
Sam Beattie and Michele Segalla. Facebook

Volunteers battled 'horrendous' conditions to save US couple

TWELVE volunteers were honoured with awards for their efforts in the recovery of an American man who was struck and killed by lightning at the summit of Mount Warning.

Tweed/Byron Local Area Command and Volunteer Rescue Association NSW Commissioner Mark Gibson presented the awards at the Tweed Heads Police Station on Wednesday night.

Mr Gibson said is was great for "troops on the ground” to be recognised for their professionalism, including the men and women who retrieved the body of Sam Beattie, 24, and his injured girlfriend Michele Segalla, 23, on December 6 last year.

A witness to the fatality on Mt Warning who was struck by Lightening is interviewed by Tweed Heads Police at the foot of the Mountain.
A witness to the fatality on Mt Warning who was struck by Lightening is interviewed by Tweed Heads Police at the foot of the Mountain. Scott Powick

The New York couple were illegally camping on the 1556m summit when the tree they were beneath was struck by lightning. Mr Beattie's feet were touching the tree and he was killed instantly.

Ms Segalla was taken to Murwillumbah Hospital where she was treated for shock and minor head and neck injuries.

Two Queensland teenagers hiking on the mountain were the first to discover the pair and alerted authorities. They tried to revive Mr Beattie until emergency services arrived on the scene.

Tweed/Byron Superintendent Wayne Starling said those volunteers battled "horrendous conditions” as they climbed the mountain to rescue Ms Segalla and recover Mr Beattie's body, with the weather unsuitable for retrieving the couple via helicopter at the time.

He said the ceremony was "symbolic of the many, many jobs” the Volunteer Rescue Association assisted police and other emergency services with.

Tweed VRA secretary Drew Carr said he and the branch were grateful for the police organising the ceremony.

Mr Carr said the relationship between the two agencies was tight-knit.

"We all sort of stick together and get the job done,” he said.

ABOVE AND RIGHT: Police and other emergency services on scene to recover American man Sam Beattie who was struck and killed by lightning at the summit of Mount Warning in 2016 while illegally camping atop the 1556m summit under a tree with his American girlfriend Michele Segalla.
ABOVE AND RIGHT: Police and other emergency services on scene to recover American man Sam Beattie who was struck and killed by lightning at the summit of Mount Warning in 2016 while illegally camping atop the 1556m summit under a tree with his American girlfriend Michele Segalla. Scott Powick


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