MANTI — Three children who were orphaned when their parents were killed by lightning will live with their mother's sister in Utah County pending a final ruling no sooner than December, a judge in Manti has ruled.
Judge David Mower granted temporary guardianship to Jeff and Lori Ostler of Alpine, who have had the children in their home since the end of July.
However, the judge assigned a state guardian ad litem based in Salina to conduct an independent evaluation of the Ostlers and of paternal relatives who are also seeking custody of the children. He set a hearing Dec. 3 to review the guardian ad litem's report.
The case arose after Richard and Lisa Goff of West Jordan were killed by lightning while the family was camping in the High Uintas, throwing the fate of their children, Dakota, 9; McKenzie, 5; and Megan, 2; into question.
Their paternal grandparents, Glen and Linda Goff, of Axtell, Sanpete County, have filed a petition for permanent guardianship. Meanwhile, a paternal uncle and aunt, Christopher and Nancy Goff, also of Axtell, are seeking to adopt the children. The Goffs' attorney said the children would live with their grandparents while the uncle and aunt enlarged their house.
Witnesses for the Ostlers, who have five children of their own, have testified that the family lives in an upscale neighborhood, has ample income to support the children and that Lori Ostler does not work outside the home.
The Goff grandparents live on a ranch, and three married children live nearby. Witnesses have testified that the Goffs are a large, close-knit family in which aunts, uncles and cousins work and play together daily.
So far, Mower has heard about three days of testimony on the case. While it is possible the judge will award custody on Dec. 3, based on the guardian at litem's evaluation, an attorney for the Ostlers said he expected there would be further proceedings in the case.