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Two Killed By Lightning In Consecutive Days At National Park

The lightning strikes happened just 600 feet away from each other in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.
Posted at 2:35 PM, Jul 13, 2014

Two people in two days lost their lives after being struck by lighting at a Colorado national park. 

The first strike took place Friday on UTE Crossing Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park, killing an Ohio woman and injuring seven others. (Via Google Earth

"At 10,800 plus feet, the area boarders the tree line and it is that exposure, officials say, that makes it so dangerous." (Via KMGH)

According to WDTN 42-year-old Rebecca Teilhet was hiking with her husband and a friend when she was struck and killed. 

Two of the seven injured were reportedly transported by ambulance while the other five drove themselves to the hospital. (Via The Denver Post

The very next day, just 600 feet from where Teilhet was fatally hit, an unidentified man in a wheelchair was killed by lightning. Twelve others were injured.

"We didn't see the bolt, it was just a white flash... It felt like something hit me in the head and I lost my vision and hearing for about ten seconds. ... and we turned around ... went over to the man that was down and started doing CPR on him until help came." (Via KMGH)

According to the National Weather Service, Friday's strike was the first fatality by lightning in Colorado this year. That and Saturday's incident brings the national total for 2014 to 11 deaths. 

However, two separate fatal strikes in virtually the same area is very rare , especially for Rock Mountain National Park where the last lightning fatality was in 2000. 

"To have two people killed by lightning on two sequential days is extremely uncommon... making the past two days a frightening and rare phenomenon." (Via KCNC

In all, 21 people in the park were affected by the weekend's storms. Experts say, when dealing with lightning it isn't unlikely for bystanders to also be hurt.   

"The most common way that people get hurt by lightning is it will strike somewhere in the nearby range and then skitter along the ground." (Via KMGH)

It's called ground current, and as NOAA shows, when one a person is hit by lightning it will travel up one leg, through the body, then out the other leg— leaving those close by venerable. 

Park officials stress it is very important to stay on low ground and take cover during a storm. The National Weather Service reports 70% of fatal lightning strikes throughout the county happen in June, July and August.