DENVER (CBS4) – A bride who died after being struck by lightning had a promising career teaching children.
Kathleen Bartlett, 31, was hiking on Friday with her newlywed husband Ryan Pocius when a lightning bolt struck them both. The couple had been married for only a week.
Bartlett died from the strike on Mount Yale on Friday. Pocius, 32, was injured and is now recovering at home.
The couple was married at the Denver Botanic Gardens last Saturday. Friends call it a fairytale romance. They then headed out on their honeymoon — a week-long trip through the outdoors that on the last day ended in tragedy.
Inside STARS Early Learning Center Miss Katie’s (Bartlett’s) classroom is neatly packed away — school supplies she used to teach 3- to 5-year-olds at the Early Learning Center.
“Just was a great teacher, she brought so much to her students every day,” Principal Kristen Morel said.
Morel said Bartlett worked there for the last five years and had just recently gotten her master’s degree and license to work with special needs children. In the process she met the love of her life and got married.
“My heart really goes out to Ryan at this moment,” Morel said. “She worked very hard on her teaching, getting her degree, her license; and once she found Ryan it felt like the whole package was really compete.”
Now Bartlett’s friends and family have started a GoFundMe page to honor her memory. So far it’s brought in more than $3,000 that will go to charities benefiting special needs children and Bartlett’s other passion — nature.
“Wherever they were with the special gifts that they brought to our program, and to her classroom, she is able to bring that child to a new level of learning,” Bartlett said.
Morel says they plan to keep Miss Katie’s spirit alive in her classroom, a testament to a teacher, a friend and new bride who was robbed of her future happiness.
“It’s just really hard to see that they only had such a short time together,” she said.
The funds will also go towards a memento of some sort to Bartlett at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where the couple was married.