Lightning Strikes Kill Two at Rocky Mountain National Park

Two deaths this week from lightning strikes at Rocky Mountain national park
When you’re out hiking this summer, pay careful attention to the weather. For the second time this week, a person has been killed by lightening at Rocky Mountain national park.

On Friday July 11, the National Park service reported eight people were hit by a lightening strike which produced a number of injuries and one woman’s death. The fatality was to a 42-year-old woman named Rebecca R. Teilhet from Ohio. Two others in the party were taken by ambulance Estes Park Medical Center, and the remaining five made it to the medical center on their own.

The incident occurred at the Ute Crossing Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. This area is located at high elevation (approximately 11,000 feet) off of Trail Ridge Road between Rainbow Curve and Forest Canyon Overlook, and it’s a popular destination where visitors hike to see rainbows after storms.

On Saturday, another four people were hit by lightning in the same general area of the park, killing one man and injuring the other three. The man was identified as Gregory Cardwell, 52, from Scottsbluff, Nebraska by the national park service. All four were rushed to Estes Park Medical Center for treatment, but Cadwell died en route due to his injuries.

There have been a number of thunderstorms which have hit the park along with the surrounding areas in recent days. The National Weather Service reports storms are likely to continue throughout the rest of the weekend. Lightning can be a hazard at many national parks, and all visitors be cautious about weather conditions no matter the time of the year. Rocky Mountain national park provides the following lightning safety precautions to visitors:

“Lightning: Start your hike early in the day, planning to get below treeline or to a shelter before a storm strikes. If caught above treeline, get away from summits and isolated trees and rocks. Find shelter if possible but avoid small cave entrances and overhangs. Crouch down on your heels. When horseback riding, dismount and tie horses securely.”

(Photo courtesy of Erin)

4 thoughts on “Lightning Strikes Kill Two at Rocky Mountain National Park

  1. I can’t believe some of the storms I see people hiking in as if there is no problem at all. Too many people have the attitude of “it will never happen to me” and then pay the price. if you see thunderstorm clouds, head below treeline as quickly as possible and find shelter inside. It can save your life.

  2. Afternoon pop-up storms have always been a threat. I’ve been caught hiking on those trails in beautiful weather only to summit and find dark, threatening clouds just on the other side. Naturally, we head back as quickly as possible, but they can approach pretty quick. There are now apps that warn of nearby rain. Although I don’t necessarily like having my phone with me while out in nature, it can be programmed to vibrate yet you can assign a certain sound that will override it (emergency setting) making it less intrusive. It only takes one person in the group to be willing to take their phone to protect the entire group, and possibly others on the trail caught unaware.

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