Looking back: Two 12-year-old girls miraculously survive being struck by lightning and bullet passes between two men inside church building - East Idaho News
Looking Back

Looking back: Two 12-year-old girls miraculously survive being struck by lightning and bullet passes between two men inside church building

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IDAHO FALLS — EastIdahoNews.com is looking back at what life was like during the week of April 1 to April 7 in east Idaho history.


ST. ANTHONY — A man was offering a $5 reward “for information that will lead to the conviction of any person mutilating, defacing or tearing down any signs or advertisements belonging to A.M. Boylen,” The Teton Peak reported on April 7, 1904.

The paper said Boylen was “the clothier,” which is a person who makes or sells clothing.

The $5 reward would also be given in exchange for “the information convicting any person or persons of hiring my signs or advertisements destroyed.”

The message in the paper was credited to Boylen.


POCATELLO — Two 12-year-old Pocatello girls miraculously escaped serious injury when they were struck by a bolt of lightning, the Idaho State Journal reported on April 7, 1950.

Alyce Allen and Joan Forrest stayed overnight at a local hospital for treatment and observation. Allen broke a blood vessel in her left ear, and her hair was singed on the left side of her head. She was also being treated for a neck burn. Forrest suffered “severe shock” and burns.

“Bodies of both girls were covered with red designs in the shape of trees and other figures caused by the electric charge,” the Journal explained.

The girls, who were sixth-graders at Emerson School, were walking down the Benchland Bluff above the west end of West Halliday Street when the lightning struck. They had spent the day “picnicking and playing” in the hills about three blocks from their homes.

“Alyce was knocked unconscious, but Joan managed to crawl through the mud down the 200-foot hill to obtain help,” the article reads.

Forrest told police she lay on the Benchland for about 10 minutes before she tried to move. She bit her arm to see if it was “dead.”

“My left arm and left side were just flopping,” she said.

When Forrest “finally reached the foot of the muddy hill, her screams attracted residents of the district.”

Police estimated that 25 minutes elapsed between the strike and the time help arrived.

“The lightning was believed to have struck about 4:25 p.m., the time when Joan’s watch stopped,” the article mentioned.


RIGBY — A lost Rigby toddler was found by a police officer in Salt Lake City, the Idaho Falls Post Register reported on April 6, 1951.

“A policeman’s badge can be a welcome sight — especially to a youngster who is lost in the big city,” the article reads.

Brian Bishop, 2-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Don Bishop, of Rigby, was found Thursday by Officer Robert E. Dalebout.

“There was no doubt about it — Brian was lost,” the Associated Press article said.

Bishop was taken to police headquarters where clerks said Bishop was “one of the best behaved lost boys they had ever seen.”

“He was brave about the whole thing until his mother claimed him, then he began to cry,” the AP said.

The article does not explain what the family was doing in Utah, how Bishop ended up lost or how long he was missing.


POCATELLO — Investigators had no leads into who fired seven or eight shots from a passing car at a church building, the Idaho State Journal reported on April 1, 1976.

The incident involved a chapel belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on U.S. 91 north of Reservation Road. The shooting happened around 10:50 p.m. Tuesday night. The bullets damaged church windows and one shot barely missed two church members.

“An LDS bishop, Gene Hancock, and Richard Horney, both of Pocatello, told authorities they narrowly escaped injury as a bullet ricocheted through a front room window, passed between the two men standing three feet apart and struck a wall,” the article states. “Another bullet entered an unoccupied classroom.”

Bannock County sheriff’s deputies and Fort Hall Police were called to the scene. The Bureau of Indian Affairs at Fort Hall was also handling an investigation.

“Authorities were uncertain about the weapon’s caliber, although some officers speculated an automatic rifle could have been used,” the paper said. “The bullets were fired in rapid succession.”

“An hour earlier, there were a lot of people in the building,” said Bishop John Whitaker, who was also in the building during the shooting. “Someone would have been hurt.”