Tributes pour in Sunday for Boston man struck by lightning whereas tenting in Wyoming


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

“We know that 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 to do – being outdoors, in awe of the beauty of nature,” the statement said.

Murphy was 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 struck.

Another student, who was 6 to 10 feet from Murphy, suffered “serious injuries” in the lightning strike and was hospitalized Tuesday night, according to a statement from Teton County Search & Rescue. That man had been discharged from hospital and returned home, said Head Girl 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 the family.

Murphy was recognized for his leadership skills 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 borders,” Regan said in a statement on Sunday.

“Jack exemplified the leadership qualities we seek to instill in our students and lived our Jesuit mission to be a ‘man for others,'” she said.

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

On Tuesday, Murphy was in Wyoming with a group of backpackers caught in severe thunderstorms that swept through the area.

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

Murphy went into cardiac arrest and other backpackers performed CPR for more than an hour to save his life, the rescue team said. When a rescue helicopter arrived, crew members took over performing CPR, but Murphy could not be resuscitated.

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

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

Due to nightfall and inclement weather, the helicopter was unable to return for the remaining backpackers. Rescue team members stayed overnight to provide support and manage the scene, the team’s statement said.

According to the rescue team, two backpackers were transported from the area by helicopter after the fog cleared from the campsite late Wednesday morning due to “acute emotional reactions and medical concerns, aggravated by the long hike”.

Outdoor Leadership School President Terri Watson said in a statement that the school sent its deepest condolences to Murphy’s family and is supporting his family “through this difficult process.”

O’Brien said the school appreciated the assistance in evacuating the two students from the area.

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

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

His family thanked his colleagues for “giving Jack a scholarship in his final days,” according to the obituary.

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

He grew up in the city but spent time with friends and family in Sunapee, New Hampshire, where he learned to ski, skate and hike, according to his obituary.

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

“We are saddened by the tragic death of Jack Murphy and offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends and everyone 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, according to his obituary.

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

According to his obituary, Tuesday visiting hours will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at JS Waterman Langone Chapel in Boston. A service for Murphy will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Trinity Church.

His family asked people to plant a tree in his honor.

“With so many who loved Jack, the family can imagine a forest growing in his name,” the obituary reads.

Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this report.

John Hilliard can be reached at [email protected]