Camper killed after lightning strikes tent outside Yellowstone National Park

Lightning over forest
(Image credit: Getty)

A camper was killed just outside Yellowstone National Park earlier this week when lightning struck his tent. 

As Jackson Hole News & Guide reports, 22-year-old student Jack Murphy was visiting from Boston for an outdoor education course organized by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). He was part of a group of 14 camping near Enos Lake in the Bridger-Teton National Forest when storms rolled in.

Murphy suffered a cardiac arrest after the lightning strike, and although members of the group performed CPR, with search and rescue workers taking over when they arrived, they were unsuccessful. Another student was injured by the strike and taken to a nearby hospital by helicopter, but has now been released.

"This is a very sad day for NOLS, our students and our families," said Terri Watson, president of NOLS, in a statement. "We extend our deepest condolences to the family of our student who passed away on this course and are focused on supporting their family through this difficult process."

Lightning safety

Before heading out on a camping trip, it's important to not only check the current weather forecast, but also familiarize yourself with local weather patterns. If storms look likely, don't go.

If conditions look safe and you want to go ahead, the National Weather Service (NWS) recommends setting up camp in a low-lying area like a ravine, and avoiding open fields, hilltops, or ridges. If you are in a forest, stay in a lower stand of trees.

If you hear an unexpected storm rolling in, the NWS advises getting into your vehicle as soon as possible. Unlike a building, a tent offers no protection from lightning. Wait until at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before heading back outside. 

The service warns that staying outside during a storm is never safe, but if you can't reach a vehicle or a permanent building with pipes and wiring, you should stay away from water or wet items such as guy ropes, and metal objects such as fence poles. It's also wise for groups of people to spread out, as electricity can easily jump from one person to the next.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.