Rocky Mountain National Park reports two fatalities in back-to-back lightning strikes

Sky-Hi staff

One man and one woman died from recent lightning incidents on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Gregory Cardwell, 52, from Scottsbluff, Neb., was one of four people park rangers responded to around 3:50 p.m., on Saturday, July 12, when lighting struck at 10,829 feet along Trail Ridge Road. The four individuals were taken to Estes Park Medical Center via ambulance; only Cardwell succumbed to his injuries.

At about 1:20 p.m., the day before on Friday, July 11, eight people were affected by a lightning strike with a variety of injuries; one woman died from her injuries. All of the people were hiking and were returning to the trailhead located on Trail Ridge Road at roughly 11,400 feet, between Rainbow Curve and Forest Canyon Overlook. The lightning struck at Ute Crossing Trail about 500 feet above the trailhead.

An air ambulance was able to land between cycles of severe weather, but the woman died on scene. She has been identified as Rebecca R. Teilhet, 42, from Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was hiking with her husband and a friend. Her husband and friend were taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center. The other five victims were part of a local hiking group and transported themselves to the Estes Park Medical Center.

The Larimer County Coroner’s office is determining the cause of both deaths.

The last lightning fatality that occurred in Rocky Mountain National Park was in 2000, when a technical climber was struck on the Diamond on Longs Peak.

National Weather Service lightning tips can be found at

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