Lightning Strike In Wyoming’s Absaroka Mountains Kills One, Injures Another

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By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter

A 22-year-old man was killed and another man suffered severe injuries in a lightning strike Tuesday evening in the Absaroka Mountains, according to Teton County Search And Rescue.

The men’s names and hometowns had not been released as of Wednesday evening. They were part of a wilderness education expedition into the Teton Wilderness through the Lander-Based National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS), according to Teton County Search And Rescue (TSCAR).

A brief statement on the NOLS website described the deceased man as a”22-year-old student.”

TSCAR was withholding the man’s identity as of Wednesday evening out of respect for his family, according to a release.

The injured man’s name had also not yet been released, and no further information was available about his condition, TSCAR Foundation spokesman Matt Hanson told Cowboy State Daily.

The men were part of a group of 14 adults camped near Enos Lake in the Teton Wilderness. Hanson described the terrain there as “rolling hills, not sheer drop-offs like much of the Tetons.”

“It’s prime grizzly and wolf habitat, very rugged and extremely remote,” Hanson said.

The campsite was about 12 miles from the Pacific Creek Trailhead.

Rescuers were helicoptered into the site Tuesday after being alerted to the incident at 6:25 p.m.

“TCSAR mobilized a response by issuing a request for the interagency helicopter from Teton Helitack. The request was approved and the helicopter flew three SAR volunteers to the site on Tuesday evening. CPR had been in progress for more than an hour when the ship landed with the SAR team members. TCSAR members took over but the patient could not be revived,” the release said.

The helicopter flew in and out twice, first with the injured man, and then to transport the body of the man who died to the Teton County Coroner at the Jackson Hole Airport. The injured man was taken first by ambulance to St. John’s Health in Moran, and later flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

Two members of TSCAR remained with the campers overnight, and reported that two other people were suffering from “acute emotional reaction and medical concerns exacerbated by the long hike out,” the release said. However, weather made any further flights impossible until about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Hansen said that to the best of his knowledge, the man who died and the one who was severely injured were the only ones directly struck by the lightning. This was the first fatal lightning strike so far this year in Wyoming, he said.

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