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Colorado man and 34 cows struck and killed by lightning in Jackson County

Community mourns rancher killed in lightning strike
Community mourns rancher killed in lightning strike 03:43

A 51-year-old man and almost three dozen cows were struck and killed by lightning in Northern Colorado on Saturday afternoon, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said on Sunday.

The Jackson County Coroner's Office identified the man as Mike Morgan and said 34 of his cows were also killed in that strike.

A sheriff's office spokeswoman said Morgan was killed while feeding his cattle in the town of Rand, about 120 miles northwest of Denver.

"Our deepest condolences go out to family and friends during this difficult time," Jackson County Sherriff Jarrod Poley said in a statement.

An electrical storm over rural Elbert County unleashed a bolt of lightning Tuesday night. July 12, 2011. Karl Gehring/ The Denver Post
A Getty Images files photo shows an electrical storm over rural Elbert County, Colorado unleashing a bolt of lightning on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Deadly lightning strikes are extremely rare, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which collects statistics on causes of death.

Between 2006 and 2021, 444 people died from lightning strikes in the United States. Lightning strikes the ground approximately 40 million times each year, but your chance of being struck in any given year is around one in a million and about 90% of people struck by lightning survive, according to the CDC.

The National Weather Service, however, says that any given person's odds of being struck in their lifetime is about one in 15,000, according to data it collected from 2009 to 2018.

Between 1989 and 2018, the U.S. averaged 43 lightning strike deaths per year, but from 2009 to 2018. that average went down to 27.

Florida, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania lead the nation in lightning strike injuries, with Colorado averaging 16 to 30 per year, according to the CDC. Florida leads the nation with over 2,000 lightning injuries in the last half-century.

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