Officials in Mississippi say a cloud to ground lightning strike is to blame for the death of a rider and her horse last week.

Clarke County Emergency Management Agency Director Eddie Ivy said emergency personnel responded to a 911 call about a lightning strike in Clarke County on July 11. Upon arrival, emergency personnel learned that 23-year-old Shannon Mosley had been riding her horse when lightning struck the pair, he said.

"The horse was dead on the scene and the rider was in cardiac arrest on the scene," Ivy said.

Mosley was taken to the hospital and then transferred to the Central Mississippi Medical Center burn center, where she later died, Ivy said.

Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, president and primary instructor of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, said deadly lightning strikes are rare, especially for humans.

"I've more often heard of people such as police officers being blown off their horses (by a lightning strike)," Gimenez said. "We hear more often that horses have been killed.”

In any case, Ivy has these tips for riders who may get caught in situations in which lightning occurs, such as thunderstorms:

  • When you hear thunder, get inside a substantial structure or vehicle with a metal roof and remain inside for 30 minutes after the last thunder sound.

    "If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike," Ivy said.

  • Stay away from open areas, water, and tall, isolated trees during thunderstorms.

    "If you are caught in a large, open area with no shelter, make yourself as small as possible," Ivy said.