Utah teen dies after lightning strikes personal watercraft

This 2015 file photo is offered for illustration purposes, showing lightning over Southern Utah, Ivins, Utah, July 1, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Kera Evans, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — UPDATED July 23 – A 14-year-old girl has died and a woman was hospitalized in critical condition after lightning struck the personal watercraft they were riding across a reservoir straddling the Utah-Wyoming border, authorities said.

Brooklyn Reynolds and her stepmother were riding on a personal watercraft in a remote area of Flaming Gorge Reservoir around noon Friday when the watercraft was struck by lightning, Daggett County sheriff’s spokeswoman Susie Potter said.

The teen died. Stepmother Jayleen, Reynolds, 49, was critically injured and airlifted to a hospital in Salt Lake City, Potter said.

The teen’s father was riding on another personal watercraft nearby. He was treated at the scene for shock due to the trauma of what happened, Potter said.

Potter said they lived in Utah County.

The reservoir inside Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is about 200 miles east of Salt Lake City.

Potter said the group was in a section of the reservoir known as Hideout, which is only accessible by boat and named after a hiding spot used by early 20th century train robber Butch Cassidy and his gang.

A group of people at a nearby campground witnessed the lightning strike and had to move their boat out of the area to get cellphone service and call for help.

Emergency crews had to use boats and aircraft to get to the area, Potter said. The team included a doctor from Colorado.

Some small storms have crossed over the area each afternoon, but the lightning strike was very unusual and unfortunate, she said. “It was just kind of wrong place, wrong time,” she said.

There were only three or four lightning strikes recorded in the area in the afternoon, said Ralph Estelle with the National Weather Service in Riverton, Wyoming.

Potter did not know how long the family had been at the reservoir, but she said they had been camping nearby.

The teen’s death comes two days after a 17-year-old boy was killed by lightning while hiking with friends in northern Arizona.

Written by MICHELLE L. PRICE, Associated Press. Associated Press writers Brady McCombs and Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report.

Ed. note: Saturday’s update includes additional detail reported by The Associated Press and incorporates a Friday night update that provided identification of the lightning strike victims and corrected the age of the teenager to 14 rather than 15 as first reported. The age correction was based on new information from police to The Associated Press.  Headline reference to jet ski has been changed to personal watercraft; the brand of watercraft has not been described in the AP report.

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1 Comment

  • ladybugavenger July 22, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Wow! What are the odds?

    Condolences to the family and to the other family of the deadly lightning strike a couple days ago.

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