Camper Dies Outside Yellowstone National Park After Lightning Strikes Tent

by Jon D. B.

In a tragic freak accident, a 22-year-old camper was killed after he was hit by lighting just outside Yellowstone National Park.

According to Jackson, Wyoming authorities, the young man died after a lightning bolt struck the campground of an outdoor school in the Teton Wilderness. Another individual was injured in the strike, which took place near Yellowstone’s border on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

The late 22-year-old was accompanied by 11 students and three camp leaders. Their school, the National Outdoor Leadership School, were in the Teton Wilderness practicing outdoor skills. As survival techniques were taught, severe storms swept through the area, causing the tragic death.

Local investigators believe the young man was inside his tent when the lightning struck, killing him. The other injured party, a school group leader, attempted to revive the victim with CPR, but to no avail. He was declared dead on the scene when first responders arrived, Fox Weather reports.

The weather station’s radar from the time of the lightning storm shows “plenty” of strikes associated with the storms that passed through the area in northwestern Wyoming around 6 PM Wednesday.

Strong storms are a fact of life in the Yellowstone National Park area, as recent historic flooding shows. This is the first deadly lightning strike in Wyoming in over a decade, however.

The young man’s death is the 9th lightning fatality in the United States this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA cites that around 20 people die each year in America from lightning strikes.

Yellowstone National Park Storms Can Be Deadly. Here’s What to Do In Case of Lightning.

In Yellowstone proper and the wilderness surrounding, the nearest shelter is often miles away. Thunderstorms can form quickly and strike without warning, so be sure to prepare ahead of your next excursion.

As park officials cite, “Calm, sunny mornings can abruptly turn into fierce, stormy days” in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. “Gusty, south-to-southwest winds are common in the afternoon. Rain and lightning often follow.”

  • If you’re hiking or boating when storms approach, get off the water, ridges, and open places
  • Avoid open places in the backcountry if storms are possible
  • If storms form, find the lowest terrain possible
  • Thick forests of equal height offer better protection from lightning than meadows
  • If in a forest or near a rock formation, minimize your contact with the ground. Keep arms and legs close to your torso until the storm dissipates.

Afternoon thundershowers are common in July thru August. Camping is one of the top activities that causes lightning fatalities, so it may be best to avoid these months when camping in the Yellowstone area.

Please plan accordingly and stay safe out there, Outsiders. For more park safety, see our Yellowstone National Park Safety: Best Practices to Safely Explore the First National Park next.