Lightning Strikes Couple Minutes Before Proposal

INSIDE EDITION reports on the heartbreaking story of a man who was about to propose to his girlfriend when a bolt of lightning struck both of them, killing the young woman who was to become his wife.

Bethany Lott loved the great outdoors.  Her boyfriend Richard Butler once shot a home video when they were hiking together in Utah.  "She just loved to be outside," Butler said.

When it came time to ask Bethany to marry him, Richard knew the best place to pop the question was her favorite hiking spot, Max Patch Park near their home in Knoxville, Tennessee.  The engagement ring was in his pocket.

They left their van in the parking lot and continued on foot, heading up a trail to the top of the mountain.  Storm clouds were beginning to gather and minutes into their hike, tragedy struck.

Bethany was just a few steps ahead when a bolt of lightning struck both of them.

"It hit her first and jumped to me.  The first thing that I really remember noticing was that my feet felt like they were on fire and there was smoke coming from them."

His legs were numb and he had second degree burns.  He showed us a hole the lightning made in one of his sneakers.  

Nothing could have prepared him for what happened to Bethany.  

Butler said, "She was laying face down and not moving.  So I crawled to her and she was gone."

Richard stumbled down the trail into the empty parking lot.  With no one around, and no cell phone reception, he jumped in his van and frantically fled down the mountain, desperately looking for help.

When paramedics arrived they were unable to revive Bethany.  That's when a devastated Richard remembered the engagement ring.  

"I gave her the ring and put it on her finger.  I hoped there was some part of her still there enough to know I was doing it," Butler sadly recalled.

Now he's left with only memories of his bride-to-be, gone in a flash of lightning.