During the severe weather that rolled through Oklahoma at the end of June- lightning struck a tree. Not an infrequent happening. This time, however, it killed 11 cattle. Dallas Franklin of KFOR News broke the news of the tragedy.
Cattle Ranch Tragedy
On the early morning on June 22 Delena Donathan says that some cows on their farm near Henryetta took shelter under a tree during a storm. Lightning then struck the tree and killed 11 cows that were underneath it.
“One bull, four pregnant cows and six calves,” Donathan told KFOR. “Now there are three calves that are orphaned, because their mommas were killed.”
The family says that they have a barn for the cattle, but that the cattle chose the tree for shelter instead.
Striking Interest Across the Internet
Wyatt Bechtel of Drovers details how the story has struck the interest of many. Local Oklahoma meteorologist Lacey Swope of KOTV shared the picture on her Facebook page shortly after the tragedy, and the post has gone viral. Swope posted:
“A cattle rancher’s worst nightmare took place in Henryetta, OK last night. Jason Donathan posted this pic showing the devastation after lightning likely struck the tree as the cows were standing under it.”
DEADLY LIGHTNING: A cattle rancher's worst nightmare took place in Henryetta, OK last night. Jason Donathan posted this…
The post has over 17,000 shares and 2,500 comments. Some comments were helpful and supportive, but most of the comments were critical of the Donathan family- saying that the cattle should be in the barn, not underneath a tree. They imply that the Donathan family could have somehow prevented this accident. This serves as a good reminder to farmers about how little most people really know about the reality of raising cattle. Small windows of time during events like these are opportunities to open up the conversation.
The Donathan family has experienced a terrible stroke of bad luck. Not only did they have a devastating loss to their cattle herd, but they also took a social media ‘beating’ for it. Leeanna McLean of The Weather Network reports that lighting strikes are generally common, but they don’t often cause tragedy like this.
According to the National Weather Service, only 5 people have been killed by lightning in the US this year. Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela is the lightning capital of the world with 223 flashes per kilometer per year.