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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Monday, July 4, 2005
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 17A
Four people were taken to the hospital after lightning hit at Boyd Lake in Loveland, where two women drowned the day before.

About 2 p.m. Sunday, lightning hit the swim beach area at Boyd Lake State Park, injuring nine people. Four were taken to McKee Medical Center in Loveland and five were treated at the park, park manager Fred Bohlmann said.

Two women drowned at the lake Saturday when their boat capsized during a family outing, Loveland Fire Battalion Chief Robert Skillman said.

The dead women were identified as Herlinda Rojas-Morales, 73, of Chihuahua, Mexico, and Maria Gallardo, 65, of El Paso, Texas.

The two were in the boat with three other women and a man, all family members, when it capsized, apparently during high winds.

No one in the boat was wearing a life vest, according to the Larimer County Coroner’s office.

“We think the weather might have played a part in this tragedy,” Skillman said.

One of the people in the boat was still in intensive care at McKee.

Witnesses to Sunday’s lightning strike said the bolt forked, hitting the beach and in the water, close to the shore.

“Everybody dropped to the ground and I just wanted to see who got up, and three people didn’t get up,” said Amy Wells, 30, of Greeley.

Zeke Hackney, 31, of Thornton, was at the north end of the beach when he saw the lightning strike. He said it first hit a man believed to be in his late 30s or early 40s who was sitting next to his wife. The same lightning bolt shot toward the water and hit a 21-year-old man who Hackney said flew about three to five feet above the water and landed face- down in the lake.

Hackney and his father pulled the man out of the water and onto the beach, where Hackney performed CPR and was able to get the man breathing with a strong pulse.

At the same time. Wells, who said she was sitting about 20 feet away from where the lightning hit the beach, ran to a teenage boy who had been hit directly by the lightning on the beach and started CPR. The boy, who she said was about 16 years old, was having a seizure, but paramedics were able to revive him and take him to the hospital.

Hackney said he also performed CPR on the older man who had suffered a direct hit. Hackney said he was able to revive the man. He said the victim’s clothes had been burned and that his shoes were split open.

CBS 4 News identified the 21- year-old as Taylor Birkbeck. A nursing administrator at McKee Medical Center said Birkbeck was in critical condition Sunday night.

Hackney said he was told by a park official Sunday night that two victims had been treated and released from the hospital and that one had been taken to a burn unit.

This story misidentified one of the women who drowned Saturday at Boyd Lake near Loveland. She was Jesusita (Susie) Gallardo, 65, of El Paso, Texas.

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