From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 12 - June 19, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Lightning claims life of Colorado man

According to a news release from Sublette County Sheriff Hank Ruland, a lightning-strike incident on Steeple Peak approximately 40 miles southeast of Pinedale claimed the life of a Colorado Springs, Colo., man on June 16.

Two people, Ryan Sayers, 20, and Katrin Birmann, 24, of Munich, Germany, were climbing Steeple Peak the afternoon of June 16 when, "at about 3:30 p.m., the two were hit by a mild lightning strike. They were near the top of Steeple Peak and they decided to take their web equipment off and sit out the storm," according to the release.

About an hour later, another lightning strike hit them and Birmann felt the strike. She recovered and found that Sayers was also hit and had tumbled almost 300 feet down the west face of Steeple Peak. Birmann rappelled down to Sayers' position in a ravine and found that he was probably deceased.

Birmann went to her camp and spent part of the night before heading out about 5:30 on the morning of June 17. On the trail out, she met two hikers who used their cell phone to call in the accident.

SCSD assembled the Tip Top Search and Rescue high-angle team and a helicopter from Greybull transported the team to the Big Sandy area at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Ruland said the helicopter crew spotted Sayers' red pants sticking out of the snow in the Steeple Peak area as they flew the area in search of the body.

Four team members packaged the body, which was "shortlined" by helicopter to Lt. Bardy Bardin, who is also a deputy county coroner. Bardin pronounced Sayers dead at the site.

The body was transported to Pinedale, where Sublette County Coroner Don Schooley took possession of the body.

The release said it is not clear at this time whether an autopsy will be performed.

Ruland express his appreciation for the high-angle team, saying they "don't get much recognition for what they do."

Anyone with questions regarding the incident can contact Ruland at 367-6593.

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