‘Suspected lightning strike’ killed scientist

A lightening strike is feared to have killed Dr Tim Boyd
A lightening strike is feared to have killed Dr Tim Boyd
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Tributes have poured in for a scientist killed by a suspected lightning strike while walking his dog at a Highland beauty spot.

Dr Tim Boyd, 54, died near his home in Appin, Argyll, during a ferocious storm on Sunday.

A woman walking her dog made the grim discovery at the Jubilee Bridge in the village after it was hit by thunder and lightning, heavy rain and hailstorms.

American-born father-of-two Dr Boyd had worked as a physical oceanographer and senior lecturer at the Marine Institute of UHI at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (Sams), based at Dunstaffnage in Oban.

A spokesman for Sams said: “We are grief-stricken about the tragic death of Tim Boyd, who was killed by a lightning strike on Sunday afternoon near his home in Appin.

“We suffer deep pain and confusion to lose such a lively and warm friend and colleague.

“Our hearts go out in particular to his wife and his two talented daughters he was so very, very proud of. Our thoughts are with his family.”

He added: “Thanks to his outgoing personality and easy-going nature he established himself quickly as a key researcher at Sams.

“Tim was also a talented lecturer who will be sorely missed by his students. Tim pursued his research work with passion and integrity and was always willing to advise and support colleagues.

“He truly enjoyed his science and we will all miss our discussions with him. Tim was a man of energy and generosity who will be deeply missed by friends and colleagues near and far.

“We all feel loss and hurt, and will always remember the contributions he made to oceanography, Arctic science and Sams.”

Alison MacCorquodale, convener of Appin Community Council, said: “It’s a real shame – you think you are simply going out for a walk and something like this happens.

“The thoughts of the community are with them.”

A statement from his family, released by Strathclyde Police, said: “He is survived by his wife (Cat Newsheller) and two daughters.

“In his private life he enjoyed hill running, cycling, sailing and travelling.”

A police spokesman said: “At 1.20pm on Sunday we received a report of a body having been found in the Appin area.

“The cause of death has not been ascertained at this time. It is not being treated as suspicious.”

She confirmed they were following a positive line of inquiry that he had been struck by lightning, adding: “A post mortem will be carried out in due course to establish the exact cause of death and a full report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.”

Dr Boyd was an acclaimed oceanographer and became a senior lecturer on polar oceanography at Sams in 2007.

He also pioneered the development of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle technology programme at the marine organisation.

Sams director Professor Laurence Mee told staff in an email that Dr Boyd had been killed by a lightning strike, adding: “We are all very shaken by this and we will do everything possible to help Tim’s family, for whom this is devastating.”

Cameron Gourlay, the husband of the woman who discovered Dr Boyd, said: “She was taking the dog for a walk and she came across a body.

“She phoned the police and had to wait with the body until they came.

“There had been some big flashes of lightning. Police told her they thought he had been struck by lightning.”

Councillor Elaine Robertson, who represents Appin, said: “What a tragic accident. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family.”

The death was the second tragedy to hit the college in just over a week.

Student Chris Bell, from Blackpool, died with three friends when they were swept to the deaths by an avalanche in Glencoe last Saturday.

About three people die from lightning strikes in the UK each year.