A 16-year-old Georgia boy attending a church youth program at nearby Uplift Mountain was killed by lightning while on a group bicycle ride Thursday.
It happened late in the afternoon on Custer County Road 271, just north of Bear Basin Ranch, leaving all to wonder how Nature could single out this young man among a group of bicyclists.
The deadly force of lightning has always been a wonder to me, especially in recent years.
Last year, I purchased a red Angus bull for the ranch on July 1. Two weeks later he was found dead, killed by lightning. And just a few months before that, in September, lightning killed one of our cows. These two cattle died on an east-west line not that far from the location where the teenager was struck.
Lightning seems truly to be a random phenomenon, but how can you account for two cattle and a person dying by lightning in such a close proximity, about a mile as the crow flies, in less than two years? Perhaps intense storms follow that ridgeline, or maybe there is something metallic in the geology there.
Our house has been struck at least four times since I’ve lived here and we’ve lost a few appliances, including one television that caught fire. The danger seems less since we’ve taken down an aerial TV antenna, but lightning still stands out as the greatest natural hazard in the Wet Mountains. That, and the rattlesnakes, and the mountain lions, and the odd 7-foot spring blizzard, etc.
As I write this another thunderstorm has rolled over the area. The rain is welcome after an intense dry spell, but the lightning I could do without.