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Here’s what we know about the Boston man killed by lightning in Wyoming

John "Jack" Murphy was a 22-year-old outdoorsman who was killed while on a backpacking trip.

John "Jack" Murphy was killed by a lightning strike in Wyoming Tuesday. Courtesy Photo

Friends and family of 22-year-old John “Jack” Murphy, a Boston native who was killed by a lightning strike in Wyoming on Tuesday, have shown an outpouring of grief as they share his life story in the wake of his death.

An accomplished outdoorsman, Murphy died in the Bridger-Teton National Forest when he was struck by lightning while on a backpacking trip, a statement from his family says.

“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,” his family said in the statement.


“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.”

How Murphy was struck by lightning

The Boston Globe reported that Murphy was completing a Wilderness First Responder expedition with the Lander, Wyoming-based National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) when he was killed. There were 13 other adults with him on the trip.

The group was backpacking near Enos Lake in the Absaroka Mountains, south of Yellowstone National Park, when they went into “lightning position” due to extensive thunderstorms in the area, the Globe reported.

Murphy and another student who was lying approximately six to 10 feet away suffered “major injuries” as a result of a lightning strike, the Globe reported.

Murphy had a heart attack and the other backpackers performed CPR on him for over an hour.

Teton County Search and Rescue was alerted at 6:25 p.m. Tuesday that lightning had hit the group and sent out a helicopter, according to the Globe. Once the helicopter arrived, the rescue team took over CPR, but was unable to resuscitate Murphy.

The injured student was flown by helicopter to a nearby town before being taken by ambulance to a local hospital. He was later flown to a larger hospital in Idaho, but has since been released and returned home, the Globe reported.


The rescue helicopter was unable to return for the remaining backpackers because of the darkness and weather, the Globe reported, but two members of the rescue team stayed with the backpackers and provided support overnight.

Two more backpackers were flown away from the campsite by helicopter after fog cleared late Wednesday morning because they were suffering from “acute emotional reaction and medical concerns exacerbated by the long hike,” the Globe reported. The 10 other backpackers hiked to a trailhead and were taken back to Lander in a vehicle.

Murphy was the first student killed by lightning in NOLS’s 57 years, the Globe reported a spokesperson for the school saying.

“This is a very sad day for NOLS, our students and our families,” NOLS President Terri Watson said in a statement, the Globe reported. “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 this difficult process.”

How Murphy is being remembered

According to Murphy’s obituary, Murphy was born and raised in the South End, and attended nursery and elementary school at Park Street School on Beacon Hill.

For middle school, he attended Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, an independent school in Cambridge, and then went to high school at Boston College High School. He graduated in 2018 and was a proud member of the rugby team, the obituary said.


Murphy was recognized for his leadership while attending Boston College High School, Grace Cotter Regan, the school’s president, told the Globe.

“Jack exemplified the leadership qualities that we hope to instill in our students and lived our Jesuit mission to be a ‘man for others,’ ” she said.


Having developed a love of the outdoors at an early age, the obituary says, Murphy attended college at the University of Colorado Boulder where he was a proud founding father of the reestablished Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

When he got older, he attended wilderness camps, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Adventures with Birch Point Camp, glacier training at Mount Baker, and before his senior year of high school a five-week Alaska backpacking expedition with NOLS. 

“He was 22 years young, strong and handsome, with a compassionate and generous spirit that allowed him to connect with others,” his obituary reads.

Murphy is survived by his father and mother, R. Douglas Murphy and Jeanine Kelly Murphy, and his younger sisters Anna Katherine Murphy and Charlotte Kelly Murphy, all of Boston, as well as his large extended family and friends.

Murphy’s family will receive friends on Tuesday, Aug. 9, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the J.S. Waterman Langone Chapel at 580 Commercial St. in Boston, the obituary says. A service for Murphy will be held Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m. at Trinity Church at 206 Clarendon St. in Boston.

In lieu of flowers, Murphy’s family is asking people to consider making a gift to the Jack Murphy Wilderness Education Fund, a trust that will “support people with a passion to live, teach, and serve in the great outdoors.” Email [email protected] for more information.


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