Survivors Of Fatal Lightning Strike In Teton Wilderness Return To Lander

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By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter

The survivors of a lightning strike that killed one man and injured another Tuesday at a remote campsite in the Absaroka Mountains were back in Lander Thursday. 

“Our focus is just making sure we are providing all the support we can to the students, the faculty and the families,” Shana Tater, spokesperson for the Lander-based National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS), told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. 

One man, 22, was killed. Another man – whose age and identity were unavailable as of Thursday – was injured when lightning struck a NOLS expedition camp of 14 adults near Enos Lake in the Teton Wilderness, according to a press release issued Wednesday by Teton County Search And Rescue (TCSAR).  NOLS was withholding the deceased man’s name out of respect for his family, Tater said. 

The National Lightning Safety Council, an organization unrelated to NOLS, had on its website listed “John D. Murphy,” 22, as the victim of a fatal lightning strike Tuesday in Teton County. The name was part of a listing of “2022 lightning fatalities.” No hometown for Murphy was listed, and the site said Murphy was struck “in tent” as the location and while “camping” as the activity. 

After being flow out by helicopter on Tuesday, the injured man was taken first by ambulance to St. John’s Health clinic in Moran, and later flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, according to search and rescue. 

He had been treated and released from the hospital Wednesday evening and rejoined the rest of the group in Lander, Tater said. Many of the group were preparing to return to their homes, she said. 

Lightning safety training is a standard part of NOLS wilderness expedition preparations, Tater said, adding that details were still unclear regarding the circumstances of the lightning strike on Tuesday. 

“We are trying to specifically understand what happened,” she said.  “Everybody’s been able to return to Lander and has been able to communicate with friends and family.” 

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