On July 11, Kathleen Bartlett and Ryan Pocius were married. Six days later, Pocius became a widower. Tragedy struck during a Friday afternoon hike on Mount Yale in Colorado. The Denver Post reports the couple were at 12,400 feet, just above the tree line and about 2,000 feet below the summit, per CBS Denver, when they were hit by lightning. The Chaffee County Coroner's Office says Bartlett, 31, likely died instantly. Pocius, 32, was taken from the mountain via helicopter about 4.5 hours later—a rescue slowed by the fact that witnesses had to hike at least 2 miles down the mountain, then drive to a place where they had cellphone reception, reports 9News.
The Post describes Bartlett and Pocius as outdoors-lovers who had married at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The couple's wedding website recounts how they met at a bar where Bartlett, a teacher, worked as a part-time cocktail waitress; she gave Pocius a hard time for ordering scotch with ice on the side. He asked for her number, and they quickly realized "we had both found 'our person.' Six months after we started dating seriously, we found ourselves engaged." The Denver Channel has this quote: "She was a soft, gentle breeze in any space she graced. Our family is saddened by her passing, yet certain that Katie-Bug is in a loving, blissful, and perfect space." According to National Weather Service data, Bartlett is the first person to be killed by lightning this year in Denver; the Mount Yale region was hit by just two cloud-to-ground lightning flashes on Friday. (Read more Colorado stories.)