Lightning kills woman and horse, injures teen in Douglas County

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- Severe weather turned violent and deadly on Sunday when a woman and horse were killed after being struck by lightning in Sedalia. A teenage girl, also struck, was taken to a hospital for injuries.

Federal statistics indicate the death could be the first by a lightning strike in the U.S. this year. The strike hit along a community horseback riding trail in the 7000 block of Rainbow Creek Road, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said.

Neighbors said they could feel the violent storm and the impact of its powerful strike, killing the 37-year-old woman and her horse.

"She's just a wonderful person," friend Rebecca Knight said.

The victim's loved ones said she loved horseback riding and often could be seen riding horses on nearby trails.

"We have a wonderful community in that everyone's property has a trail easement," Knight said.

Deputies said the victim was riding with her mom and a 15-year-old girl. The strike sent the girl to a hospital. The mom was not injured, officials said.

"They were trying to ride between storms," sheriff's deputy Jason Blanchard said. "[They were] trying to get out and meet each other on that trail."

Federal statistics show over the past decade, an average of 30 people are killed by lightning every year in the U.S. There were no reported lightning fatalities in the U.S. so far this year until Sunday's violent weather.

"In just the last few days, there have been lightning strikes that have actually come in contact with people," Blanchard said.

Residents in Sedalia said the victim will not be forgotten and will forever be remembered for her love of horses.

"She's just a beautiful, beautiful person and it's just a horrible, horrible loss," Knight said.

The Douglas County Coroner's Office has not released the name of the woman killed.

Deputies said the 15-year-old girl was awake and breathing when she was taken to a hospital. Her condition had not been released.