Rocky Mountain National Park lightning kills Gregory Cardwell, Becky Telheit in two days

Categories: News

Gregory Cardwell, second from right, in a Facebook photo. More images below.
In recent days, we've posted about the series of lightning storms that have hit the Colorado, with one strike hitting so close to Arvada's Chad Greenlees that he was briefly knocked out while recording a video of the light show.

This incident pales in comparison with a pair of tragedies at Rocky Mountain National Park: Out-of-state visitors Becky Teilhet and Gregory Cardwell were killed by lightning strikes on consecutive days in spots located close to each other.

See also: Video: Chad Greenlees knocked out by lightning while recording lightning

A screen capture from Becky Telheit's Facebook page.
At about 1:20 p.m. on Friday, July 11, according to an RMMP news release, a lightning strike took place on the Ute Crossing Trail, an area located off Trail Ridge Road between Rainbow Curve and Forest Canyon Overlook.

Eight people suffered what are described as "a variety of injuries," with seven of them receiving treatment at Estes Park Medical Center after either being taken by ambulance or transporting themselves to the facility. However, Telheit, a 42-year-old from Yellow Springs, Ohio, died after the strike. She had been hiking with her husband and a friend, an RMNP spokeswoman reveals.

Just over 24 hours later, at 3:50 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, another lightning strike occurred near Rainbow Curve. This time, four people were hurt, with one of them -- a man subsequently identified by the RMNP as Cardwell, a 52-year-old from Scottsbluff, Nebraska -- succumbing to his wounds.

Cardwell was blessed with a close and deeply religious family, as indicated by this Facebook image in which he's featured:

He was also a big Broncos fan. Here's another Facebook item offering photographic evidence:

Such incidents are hardly common at Rocky Mountain National Park. The last person to die from lightning there passed away in 2000, "when a technical climber was struck on the Diamond on Longs Peak," the park spokeswoman reveals.

The length of time between fatalities makes two deaths less than thirty hours apart near the same location that much more uncommon, not to mention terribly sad. Our condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Becky Telheit and Gregory Cardwell.

Here's a CBS4 report about the incidents.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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John Stemmler
John Stemmler

I watched the adult kickball league players (50-70 of them?) all run for cover under the lone clump of conifers in the middle of their playing fields when lightning struck just east of University in City Park. Not smart!

Amelia Ebert
Amelia Ebert

When you are above treeline and hear thunder, leave, go back down. Last summer I turned around on Quandary due to thunder. The person I was with refused and kept going. I am not friends with this person anymore. She would not listen to me. She left me at the Trail Head because we got separated. Don't be stupid, lighting above tree line is dangerous. These mountain storms are not to be messed with. Don't take this chance. Leave as early as possible in the morning to avoid the afternoon storms, look at the weather reports. People get struck by lightening almost every year on Colorado Mountains.

RobertChase topcommenter

If RMNP does not have a large sign warning of the risk of lightning, it should erect one, right after Smokey Bear's daily advice about fire danger.  Simply stating that the risk of lightning is elevated on exposed ridges and during summer thunderstorms, and warning travelers to descend when the weather turns nasty and to try to be out of exposed terrain by noon could help prevent some of these deaths.

GuestWho topcommenter

@RobertChase   Do we need a fucking sign near every danger in nature?  Should we require bears to hold signs or wear t-shirts that inform us of the dangers of bears?    I'm sick of signs littering the outdoors...put it in the damn park info available at the entrance and be done with it.

RobertChase topcommenter

@GuestWho -- a single additional informational sign next to Smokey's fire advisory on the road (typically at USFS boundaries) would not be amiss.  Keep officious signs out of the backcountry, but warn people who do not realize just how risky even a short hike off of Trail Ridge Road in the mid-afternoon, in mid-July, can be.

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