Lightning strike kills Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle

A lightning storm over southwest Denver. June 8, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A lightning storm over southwest Denver. June 8, 2023.

DENVER (AP) — A lightning strike killed a Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle over the weekend, officials said Sunday.

Mike Morgan, 51, was feeding his cattle from a trailer when he was struck and died on the scene despite life-saving efforts, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said.

The lightning bolt struck on wide open pasture outside the town of Rand, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of Denver, said George Crocket, the county coroner.

The strike also bowled over around 100 head of cattle that had bunched around the trailer loaded with hay, said Crocket. “All but the 34 got up,” he said.

Morgan’s father-in-law and wife were nearby but survived the blast, said Crocket.

The incident stunned the small, tightknit community where most everybody knows everybody, Crockett said.

Lightning causes 2 deaths and 12 injuries per year in Colorado, according to the National Weather Service. During thunderstorms, people in the vicinity are encouraged to take several precautions, including avoiding high ground, staying indoors, and sheltering away from metal objects.


Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.