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Lightning Victim: 'Died Doing What She Loved'

By Tom Mustin

SEDALIA, Colo. (CBS4) - Heartbroken neighbors searched for answers after the death of Laura Miller. She was struck by lightning and killed, along with her horse.

"God wanted her, God took her," David Curnutte told CBS4's Tom Mustin.

laura and horse on friend's FB
Laura Miller (credit: Facebook)

Sunday afternoon, the Sedalia resident had been horseback riding with a teenage friend when lightning struck her near her home in the Rainbow Creek neighborhood. Miller, 36, and her horse were killed. The 15-year-old girl was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

"Tragic. Very tragic. It is unexplainable," said Marianne Elam.

Elam says Miller was friendly and outgoing. She loved horses, and was a fantastic neighbor and friend.

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(credit: CBS)

"She's a wonderful, hard to miss, beautiful rider and a wonderful friend," she said.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says Miller had been riding on a popular trail to meet up with her mother, who lived nearby and was also on horseback. Miller and the teenager were hit by lightning after being caught between storms.

"There was a storm about 10 minutes ahead of them, there was a storm they could see behind them," said Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Blanchard.

David Curnutte says horses are a big part of the close-knit Rainbow creek community. Miller lived for her animals.

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Laura Miller (credit: Facebook)

"They built a new outdoor riding arena. She built a new barn, and she loved her horses. So she did die doing what she loved to do," said Curnutte.

Douglas County deputies say there have been three lightning-related issues in the past few days. Miller is the first fatality this year in Colorado. Neighbors say her death is a tragic reminder of the power of Mother Nature.

"It's just too sad to really explain," said Elam.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says the teenage girl is still in serious condition but said she is "improving."

Deputies also want to emphasize that severe storm season is here in Colorado. If in doubt, seek indoor shelter or take cover if you hear thunder or see lightning.

Tom Mustin is CBS4's Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

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