Tribute for newlywed bride killed by lightning

Posted at 2:02 AM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 04:02:47-04

Family and friends of a woman killed by lightning on Mt. Yale are vowing that her name and passions will live on.

Katie Bartlett, 31, died just days after her wedding in July while hiking with her husband, Ryan Pocius.

"We had set a personal goal of climbing a 14-er together on our honeymoon," said Pocius. "And we jokingly said, 'This is how we want to set off our marriage. We want to set it off on the right foot and set it off on a high.'"

They had already reached the peak and were heading back down when the storm came in. The lightning strike killed Bartlett instantly and left Pocius unconscious for several minutes. When he came to, despite his injuries, he gave her CPR, aided by hikers who stopped to help.

"My first thought was, 'Whatever happens, I'm going to be here. I'm going to stay here until help comes,'" said Dr. Ed Miedema, a retired urologist who was also hiking Mt. Yale. "I knew that immediately."

Miedema waited with Pocius for the three to four hours he said it took for medics to arrive, forming such a bond with him, he was also there this weekend as Pocius paid tribute to his wife along with the couple's family and friends.

The memorial was held in Denver's Botanic Gardens, the same place Pocius and Bartlett were married. Pocius donated $12,000 raised through his wife's memorial page to causes she was passionate about; the Humane Society for her love of animals; the American Association for the Care of Children, which sponsored a medical mission trip Bartlett took to Nicaragua; and the Adams County school where she taught special needs children.

"She loved the kids and loved the learning experiences that she was part of every day with them," said Kristen Morel, principal at STARS Early Learning Center. "It's about her legacy carrying on, and being a part of that is very special to me. She was a big part of my life for five years."

Pocius said it still hasn't set in that his best friend is gone.

"I spent a long time trying to find the right person and I did," he said. "I found my soul mate which is something I didn’t believe in."

He said he's blessed for the time he had with her, and grateful she didn't suffer.

"We got to be together in her final moments," Pocius said. "A lot of people don’t get that."

He said he'll continue to raise money in his wife's name to benefit the causes close to her heart.

"It brings a smile to my face because I get to share in that connection," he said. "I get to feel her presence around me through the good that her name and her memory is doing."

To donate to Bartlett's memorial fund, click here.