Both deaths at the national park were part of groups which got caught in afternoon thunderstorms that swept into the park. All the people in both groups sustained injuries that required them to be looked at at a local hospital, one person from each group died due to the strikes. On Friday, 42 year-old Rebecca R. Teilhet from Ohio died and on Saturday, 52 year-old Gregory Cardwell from Nebraska was killed. The other 11 hikers in both groups were treated for their injuries and released from the Estes Park Medical Center.
The two deaths in Colorado make it the second deadliest state for lightning strikes this year behind Florida which has had four. The following states have recorded lightning deaths this year:
- Florida (4)
- Colorado (2)
- Arkansas (1)
- Michigan (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- Texas (1)
- Wisconsin (1)
The following are the deaths recorded so far in 2014 preceding the two at Rocky Mountain national park:
May 9: Hank Wiederhold was hit in Texas while in his back yard near tree.
May 14: Gustin Navarrete-Guerrero was hit in Florida when he went outside to close the windows of his car at a construction site.
May 14: Larry Webb was hit in Florida while fishing at the edge of a lake.
May 22: Thomas Coburn Wartell was hit in New Mexico while on a highway riding his motorcycle.
May 29: Robert Elliott was hit in Florida while on the top of a roof at a car dealership he was re-roofing.
June 13: James Donald McDaniel was hit in Florida while picking blueberries.
June 18: Dustin Flodin was hit in Michigan while at a park taking refuge under a tree.
June 30: Gaylin E.A. was hit in Wisconsin on the side of the road while fixing a windshield wiper.
July 1: Steven Sheppherd was hit in Arkansas while under a tree.
For those who are outside when there are thunderstorms in the area, it’s important to remember if you can hear or see lightning, you’re in danger. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risks of being hit by lightning, but the best course of action is to be aware of the weather conditions so you don’t get caught in a thunderstorm in the first place.
(Photo courtesy of Paolo)