Lightning Kills Oregon Man

MADRAS, Ore. – Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a medical emergency on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon.

Deputies say Connie Hemenway, 49, and Bret Hemenway, 50, both of Madras, were on a two-day motorcycle ride and were returning home when they got caught in a thunderstorm.

Investigators say the pair stopped at the rest area at Cow Canyon for a few minutes before they continued on the highway when there was a break in the storm. They were forced to stop a few minutes later as the storm picked up again.

They stopped under a large tree on the side of the highway. Deputies say Connie Hemenway saw a blue light and felt extreme pain in her left arm before being blown backwards. They say Bret was leaning against the tree and not moving. Connie then called 911 for help.

Deputies and medical personnel arrived. Connie was transported to the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend and treated for her injuries.

CPR was attempted on Bret Hemenway, but he was reported dead at the scene.


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  1. karen says:

    Oh my gosh, this is so sad! My heart goes out to Connie :( I hope this is a lesson to others that standing under a tree during a lightning strike is not safe–what seems like shelter can actually be a conduit.

  2. Brian says:

    Bret was a childhood friend of mine and a good guy. God Bless. My heart also goes out to Connie and the whole family.

  3. Alyssa says:

    I’m Bret’s niece and I would like to point out something that the article doesn’t mention. They didn’t stop under a single tree sitting in the field. They actually took shelter in a small cluster of trees. The storm was so terrible that it was blew out windows in homes and there really was no safe place. Unfortunately sometimes our only options are not good ones.

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