Tributes pour in for Boston man struck by lightning while camping in Wyoming


Murphy, who was known as “Jack,” found peace in the physical exertion it took to climb to a remote place like Enos Lake — “so far from the city home he grew up in,” his family said in a statement posted to the National Outdoor Leadership School website.

“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,” the statement said.

Murphy had been a student at the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyo., and was part of a group of 14 adult students participating in a Wilderness First Responder expedition when the tragedy occurred.

Another student who was lying 6 to 10 feet from Murphy suffered “major injuries” in the lightning strike and was hospitalized Tuesday night, according to a statement from Teton County Search & Rescue. That man has been released from the hospital and returned home, said school spokeswoman Jeanne O’Brien, who declined to say where he lived.

In Boston, Murphy’s parents, R. Douglas Murphy and Jeanine Kelly Murphy, and two sisters, Anna Katherine Murphy and Charlotte Kelly Murphy, remembered him for his dedication to family.

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

Murphy, who graduated from there in 2018 and was a member of that year’s rugby state championship team, was part of “a brotherhood that knew no limits,” Regan said in a statement Sunday.

“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.

The school continues “to hold his family, teammates and classmates in our prayers and hope to offer some comfort as the BC High community comes together to celebrate his life later this week,” Regan said.

On Tuesday in Wyoming, Murphy had been with a group of backpackers caught in heavy thunderstorms that passed over the area.

Teton County Search & Rescue said it was notified at 6:25 p.m. Tuesday that lightning had struck the group of backpackers at the lake.

Murphy went into cardiac arrest, and fellow backpackers performed CPR for more than an hour in an effort to save his life, according to the rescue team. Once a rescue helicopter arrived, crew members took over performing CPR, but Murphy could not be revived.

The injured man was transported by helicopter to Moran, Wyo., where he was taken to St. John’s Health in Jackson, Wyo., then flown to Eastern Idaho Medical Center.

After the rescue helicopter transported the injured backpacker from the scene, it returned for Murphy, according to the statement. Two members of the rescue team remained with the backpackers, while Murphy’s body was taken to Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Airport, where it was met by the Teton County coroner.

Due to nightfall and the inclement weather, the helicopter could not return for the remaining backpackers. The rescue team members stayed overnight to provide support and manage the scene, the team’s statement said.

Two backpackers were transported from the area by helicopter after fog had cleared late Wednesday morning due to “acute emotional reaction and medical concerns exacerbated by the long hike” from the campsite, according to the rescue team.

Terri Watson, the outdoor leadership school’s president, said in a statement that the school has extended its deepest condolences to Murphy’s family, and is supporting his family “through this difficult process.”

O’Brien said the school appreciated the support evacuating the two students out of the area.

“The remaining group of 10 hiked to the Box Creek trailhead and was transported back to Lander by vehicle on Wednesday,” she said.

Murphy’s family thanked the rescue team and his fellow backpackers and guides for trying to save his life, his obituary said.

His family expressed appreciation to his colleagues for providing “Jack fellowship in what were his last days,” according to the obituary.

As a child in Boston, Murphy attended the Park Street School on Beacon Hill, and Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge before entering BC High. He and many of his friends met as toddlers at Ringgold Park, and stayed in touch through sports, and gatherings of family and friends.

He was raised in the city but spent time in Sunapee, N.H., with friends and family, where he learned to ski, skate, and hike, his obituary said.

After he graduated from Boston College High School, he studied at the University of Colorado-Boulder and was last enrolled there in the fall of 2021, according to a university statement. He was involved with the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

“We are saddened by the tragic death of Jack Murphy and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all of those who knew him at CU Boulder,” the statement said.

Despite his travels, Murphy had a great love for family, and was content to spend his evenings with them, his obituary said.

Now his family is preparing for memorials to honor Murphy later this week.

Visiting hours will be held Tuesday at the J.S. Waterman Langone Chapel in Boston from 4 to 8 p.m., according to his death notice. A service for Murphy will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Trinity Church.

His family asked people to consider planting a tree in his honor.

“Given the many who loved Jack, the family can imagine a forest growing in his name,” the obituary said.

Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this report.

John Hilliard can be reached at


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