Heartbreak and honor for new bride killed by lightning strike on Mount Yale


Kathleen Bartlett

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- A Colorado man is out of the hospital and resting with family after a lightning strike that killed his wife just days after their wedding day.

On Monday, 32-year-old Ryan Pocius wrote a heartfelt and heartbreaking Facebook post about the life and death of his wife Kathleen Bartlett on the last day of their honeymoon.

A day later, Bartlett’s former school in Adams County honored the dedicated teacher, while others honored her spirit with donations.

The door of Kathleen Bartlett’s room inside Stars Early Learning Center still says “Ms. Katie” along with a picture of the former teacher. On Tuesday, principal Kristen Morel spoke inside Bartlett’s now empty room, explaining how she could transform any space where she taught.

“Kids knew that they were safe, that they were cared for, that they were loved in her classroom,” Morel said.

Morel said when Bartlett last left her classroom she was anxious to celebrate her own transformation, marrying the man she cared for and loved, Ryan Pocius.

“She was very excited,” Morel said. “They worked hard at all their plans and making it the very special day that she dreamed of for a long time.”

That dream included hiking a 14er together on the last day of their honeymoon, but shortly after hitting the summit of Mount Yale, lightning struck.

In his Facebook post, Ryan Pocius said, "I was blessed to get to spend Katie's final moments with her, as our new friends gave her chest compressions and I gave her my own life-breath. We worked for 40 minutes to try and bring her back to no avail. Yet, everyone should know that Katie was doing something she loved -- hiking."

“It`s hard to not be sad because I think there was a lot more that she was ready to do,” Morel said. “But I think there`s a peace in knowing that she was doing everything that she wanted.”

In his post, Pocius went on to say, “(Katie) loved me, her family, her friends and the children she taught, more than anything else and put us all above herself.”

With that in mind, family and friends are raising money in Bartlett’s honor. The “Katie’s Gift to the World” GoFundMe page has already collected more than $6,000 for causes that Bartlett held dear. Donations will go to several organizations including the Stars Early Learning Center.

“She gave a lot to these students and if that continues that`s a wonderful thing,” Morel said.

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