Lightning kills man seeking refuge by tree; wife survives

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MADRAS, Ore. — A Central Oregon man returning from a weekend motorcycle trip through the Columbia Gorge died when he sought refuge from a storm and lightning hit the tree he was leaning against.

KTVZ -TV) reports that 50-year-old Bret Hemenway was a longtime alfalfa farmer. A growers organization named him and his wife, Connie, “Oregon Hay King” winners in 2001. He’s also listed as owning an equipment repair business.

The storm came up Sunday as the couple headed home to Madras on U.S. 97. They stopped about 20 miles northeast of town. Sheriff Jim Adkins says 49-year-old Connie Hemenway reported seeing a blue light and feeling extreme pain in her arm as she was blown backward from the tree.

She was treated in Madras and released.

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