Lightning Kills Rancher, Over 30 Cows In Colorado

Image not from story (Photo by BIJU BORO/AFP via Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
Font Size:

A lightning strike killed a rancher and more than 30 of his cattle Sunday afternoon in northern Colorado, according to multiple reports.

Mike Morgan, 51, was tossing hay off the back of his trailer to his herd of cattle at about 2 p.m. in Rand when the lightning bolt struck him and about 100 of his cows and calves standing around the trailer, the Colorado Sun reported.

Neither Morgan nor thirty-two of his cattle survived the strike, the outlet reported, citing local coroner George Crocket.

“As best I can tell, it hit him on the trailer. The cattle were bunched up around the trailer and it hit them all,” Crocket reportedly said.

The incident occurred just after Morgan, his wife, and his father-in-law finished branding their calves with assistance from neighbors and friends during a local spring event known as branding day, according to the outlet.

Morgan’s wife—who was leading horses to a horse trailer—and Morgan’s father-in-law—who was driving the tractor hitched to Morgan’s trailer—reportedly were nearby during the incident. They both survived, 9NEWS Denver reported. (RELATED: Shocking Video Shows Lightning Striking Two People Dead On Beach)

Crocket had not seen any more lethal lightning in Rand, he reportedly told the Colorado Sun. His rancher-grandfather once lost seven cattle to a lightning strike, and Crocket had seen horses killed by lightning, “but it’s usually one at a time,” he reportedly added.

A storm had just blown in, presaging the strike that killed Morgan and the cows, the outlet reported.

Rand’s skies were largely overcast almost throughout Sunday and the city saw some rain, according to Weather Underground. Denver—some 120-odd miles southeast of Rand—and other locations across Colorado witnessed isolated storms projected to continue through Memorial Day, according to local outlet KDVR.

Morgan served on the board of the North Park Stockgrowers Association—a nonprofit livestock advocacy group—and had warned of the danger that gray wolves reintroduced into the wild posed to livestock in the state. Since their reintroduction last December, four of the five rewilded wolves were believed to have killed six cows, according to the Colorado Sun.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that people take shelter away from overcast skies or during thunderstorms. Lightning strikes the U.S. about 25 million times each year, according to the NOAA.