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Woman, two dogs struck and killed by lightning in Pico Rivera

Mother of two killed by lighting while walking her dogs in Pico Rivera
Mother of two killed by lighting while walking her dogs in Pico Rivera 02:38

A woman and her two dogs were struck by lightning and killed Wednesday morning. 

"It could happen to anybody," said neighbor Jason Cisneros.

Authorities on the scene were conducting an investigation to try and determine the exact circumstances leading to the deaths, after receiving a call at around 9 a.m.

"Somebody lost a mom and a sister," Cisneros added. "That can't be a good feeling."

First responders attempted to revive the woman, identified as Antonia Mendoza of Pico Rivera, before she was pronounced dead, along with both of her dogs. 

"It's really sad but she's in heaven now." said the victim's friend for two years, Gloria Colocho. 

Colocho added Mendoza, who started renting a room from Colocho just a few months ago, would walk her dogs nearly every day.

"The Lord wanted her really quick, so he took her without suffering — in a blink of an eye," said Colocho.

Mendoza was a devout Catholic. She had left her bible and rosary beads in her car that was parked by the walking path. 

She and her dogs were found lying near the San Gabriel Riverbed. 

"It's devastating," said Mary Perez, a woman who lives in the area. "I mean my heart aches. I heard she's a younger lady. It's scary."

Mendoza had two daughters, one in San Diego and another in Mexico. Colocho said her friend had plans to visit them soon.

"Not too long ago she just mentioned... 'I'm saving money to go see her,'" Colocho added. "That moment never came."

As a result, Pico Rivera city officials have called for all crews to work indoors for the duration of Wednesday. 

"We're ordering our crews indoors for now because of the volatility we have in our thunderstorms," said Pico Rivera City Manager Steve Carmona. "For residents, we'll be sending out a notification just to give them a warning to be careful."

Summer camps were also ordered indoors for the day. 

In an official statement, the City of Pico Rivera, which read in part: 

"This morning at approximately 9:00 a.m. it was reported to the City by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department that a woman walking her two dogs along the San Gabriel Flood Control District was struck and killed by an apparent lightning strike. The woman and her dogs perished as a result of the lightning strike."

It continued to note that, "while lightning strikes are rare in Southern California, they occurred frequently overnight with over 3,700 lightning strikes recorded in the region."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "About 40 million lightning strikes hit the ground in the United States each year. But the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are less than one in a million, and almost 90% of all lightning strike victims survive. The odds of being struck multiple times is even less, with the record being seven times in one lifetime. There are some factors that can put you at greater risk for being struck, such as participating in outdoor recreational activities or working outside."

The lightning, which was brought through Southern California by a monsoonal storm that originally generated in Baja California, was accompanied by scattered thunderstorms, high-powered winds and hailstorms that affected many regions of the Southland. 

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