Mass Outdoor Enthusiast, 22, Killed By Lightning Strike While Camping In Wyoming


A Massachusetts family is mourning the loss of their 22-year-old son who was struck by lightning and killed during an outdoors course in Wyoming.

John “Jack” Murphy was struck by lightning while camping in the Absaroka Mountains on Tuesday, Aug. 2, according to a release from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

Murphy was attending NOLS’ Wilderness First Responder expedition when he and another student were struck. Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene and both were flown to a Jackson hospital where the second student received treatment.

“This is a very sad day for NOLS, our students and our families,” NOLS President Terri Watson said. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family of our student who passed away on this course.”

Murphy’s family later released a statement regarding their son’s death:

“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 in. 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.”

Murphy grew up in Boston’s South End, attended Boston College High School and the University of Colorado, Boulder. Despite being raised in the city, Murphy “developed a love of the outdoors at an early age,” his obituary reads.

“He was lucky enough to spend significant time in Sunapee, NH with family and friends where he loved to ski, skate, and hike in the outdoors,” Murphy’s obituary continues. “As he grew older, he sought out more formal adventures at wilderness camps including with Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Adventures with Birch Point Camp, glacier training at Mount Baker with his dad, and before his senior year of high school a 5-week Alaska backpacking expedition with NOLS.”

While Murphy’s wild heart led him near and far, he always made time for “forced family fun.” Whether it was spending nights at home or going on family trips, Murphy created countless memories with all those who loved him.

“His family will cherish the many happy memories of holidays in the Boston area with members of our large Mongeau clan, and more recently with family and friends in Osterville, MA, where all spent precious time together during COVID,” his obituary reads.

Friends and family are invited to gather at the JS Waterman Langone Chapel in Boston from 4-8 pm on Tuesday, Aug. 9. A service for Murphy will be held the at Trinity Church in Boston at 10 am on Wednesday.

Aside from attending his services, people can also donate the Jack Murphy Wilderness Education Fund in his honor. Those interested should contact jackmurphyfund@gmail.com to donate.

The family has also asked people to consider planting a tree in Murphy’s honor so they “can imagine a forest growing in his name.”

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