Colorado rancher, 34 cattle killed by lightning strike


A northern Colorado rancher tossing bales of hay to cattle was killed when he was struck by lightning on Saturday, authorities said. The bolt also killed 34 members of the herd he was feeding.

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According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Mike Morgan, 51, was feeding more than 100 of his cattle that were standing around his trailer when lightning struck, the Colorado Sun reported.

The impact killed Morgan and knocked the animals off their feet, George Crocket, the Jackson County coroner, told the news outlet.

“The 32 cattle did not get back up,” Crocket told the Sun. “As best I can tell, it hit him on the trailer. The cattle were bunched up around the trailer and it hit them all.”

The incident occurred in the town of Rand, about 120 miles northwest of Denver, a sheriff’s office spokesperson told KCNC-TV.

Morgan, his wife and father-in-law had just finished branding the cattle and were feeding them when lightning struck at about 2:08 p.m. MDT, the Sun reported. His wife and father-in-law survived the strike.

Crocket told the newspaper it was one of the worst lightning strikes he had witnesses. He said that a strike once killed seven cattle at his grandfather’s ranch.

“I’ve seen horses get killed, but it’s usually one at a time,” Crocket told the Sun.

Morgan was on the board of the North Park Stockgrowers Association, according to the newspaper.

“Our deepest condolences go out to family and friends during this difficult time,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release obtained by KDVR-TV.

The National Weather Service has kept records of lightning-related deaths and injuries in Colorado from 1980 to 2021, according to the television station. It was the first time a strike had been recorded in Jackson County during that time.

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