University of Idaho professor struck by lightning while climbing Swiss Alps

Samantha Ramsey, a University of Idaho professor, died July 30 after getting struck by lightning while climbing the Swiss Alps. Photo by Samantha Ramsey/Facebook

Aug. 1 (UPI) — A professor at the University of Idaho died Sunday when she was struck by lightning while climbing the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.

Samantha Ramsay, 41, was an assistant professor of nutrition at the university. According to the Spokesman-Review, she was also known to be an avid climber and took a trip on her own to the Swiss Alps during the one year anniversary of her husband’s passing.

Her husband, Robert Ramsey, was a former pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. He died on Aug. 4, 2016 after a long battle with brain cancer.

They had two children together, ages 12 and 9.

“Rob’s passing was tragic and crushing to Samantha, but it was not going to stop her,” said Shawn O’Neal, a family friend, according to KTVB. “It’s just not who she was.”

Ramsey was climbing the Swiss side of the Matterhorn with another experienced climber when they got caught in a thunderstorm Sunday night. Lightning struck both of the climbers.

The friend, who has not been named in media reports, used an emergency radio for help. Medical services arrived and took Ramsey to a hospital, where she was declared dead upon arrival. The friend was listed as in critical condition.

Friends of Ramsey said she was known to travel to places all over the world.

“The best way to describe it is, the way you or I might go to spend a day at the lake or at the park, Samantha goes to Switzerland, or Samantha goes to Machu Picchu, or Samantha goes to Thailand,” O’Neal said.

In a Facebook post from December, Ramsey described a moment with her and her youngest son, Reidar.

“Mom, I know why you love mountains so much,” she quotes her son as saying. “Because mountains are your playground.”


  1. Wow, that’s a really tragic story. I get that she found peace in doing something to help keep her mind off her husband tragic death. But, unfortunately, she picked a really dangerous way (mountain climbing) to get peace. As a parent, I can’t imagine doing something so dangerous, especially after my spouse would die. And now her kids have lost both parents within a year. Sad, really sad. I pray that they will find some solace, and not be totally messed up. While the 9 year old may have thought it was cool his Mom liked to climb mountains, I would imagine he’s probably changed his mind after she died. Just sad.


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