22-year-old Boston man killed from lightning strike at a Wyoming outdoors educator event

JACKSON, Wyo. — A Boston family is grieving after losing their 22-year-old boy earlier this week after he was struck by lightning while at an outdoors educator course in Wyoming.

John D. Murphy, 22, of Boston, died on August 2 of cardiac arrest because of the lightning strike, according to Teton County Coroner, Brent Blue.

Course members there with Murphy performed CPR for over an hour before he was pronounced dead on the scene. Blue said he did not know if the lightning struck Murphy directly or passed through something else to him.

The group with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) was just days into their trip and had set up camp near Enos Lake, south of Yellowstone National Park, when a thunderstorm moved into the area Tuesday evening.

National Outdoor Leadership School President Terry Watson in a statement called the lightning strike a “a very sad day” for the school, its students and their families.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family of our student who passed away on this course and are focused on supporting their family through its difficult process,” she said.

The nonprofit global wilderness school based in Lander, Wyoming, teaches students to become outdoors educators. More than 330,000 students have graduated and there have been 13 deaths at school events during its 57-year history, the school said.

Murphy, known to all as “Jack” was described by family and friends as a “compassionate and generous young man” with a strong passion for the outdoors. He was raised in Boston’s South End with his two younger sisters, Anna and Charlotte, whose family says they “loved to follow in his footsteps.”

Murphy attended middle school at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols (BB&N), and high school at Boston College High School where he graduated in 2018 and was a proud member of the rugby team. Murphy continued his education at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he was a proud founding father of the reestablished Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

According to his family, Murphy developed a love for the outdoors at an early age and could be found building forts in the woods of Indian Cave which survive to this day.

“We are rocked by grief at having lost our dear Jack. Jack loved the outdoors and found peace in the physical exertion it takes to climb to a remote place like Enos Lake, so far from the city home, he grew up. We know in his last moments he was with others who shared his passion for the wilderness and helping others. And he was doing what he loved best — being outdoors, in awe of the beauty of nature. We thank you for respecting our privacy at this unimaginable time,” said Murphy’s family.

If you want to donate to the “Jack Murphy Wilderness Education Fund,” a trust that will support others who have a passion to live, teach, and serve in the great outdoors, contact jackmurphyfund@gmail.com.

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