Struck By Lightning!Struck By Lightning! Read this incredible true-life story about a man who was struck by lightning while fishing, and lived to tell about it!
By Dave Grillmeier
I would like to share my story with you. I was struck by lightning while fishing on September 10th, 1999.
As a bass fishing sportsman, I have had the delight of fishing in many bass tournaments here in central Florida. I have always had fishing in my blood, starting as a young child. Fishing has always been more than a sport to me; it's been a way to relieve stress brought on by our normal lives.
My story starts on September 10th, a Friday night, as my partner and I usually set out for an evening of fishing at a nearby lake. Both Brian (my partner) and I have been on the lake when the normal thunderstorms move through the Orlando area. We both have always had a deep respect for lightning and, as with most sportsman, we know when it's best to hit the barn and be safe.
Brian and I were at the lake that night for about a half-hour when a storm started to move toward us. The skies began to get that purple glow and a mist of rain had started. I told Brian that we needed to stay close to my van since that night we were fishing on the bank of a canal that fed the lake. We both had made the comment that we didn't want to get fried like a fish.
As the storm got closer, so did the lightning. I told Brian it was time to go, and I walked past him on my way back to the van to stow away my gear. Brian, being the die-hard fisherman he is, just wanted one more cast. I grabbed my graphite rod and walked back to the edge of the canal, also to get one more cast before leaving. Just as I cast my worm to the other side of the canal, lightning hit me.
As it happened, I knew what was going on, but could only think about my family and kids at home.
I laid at the edge of the canal, waiting for Brian to come help me, which seemed like forever. The lake bordered the airport here in Orlando, and Brian started running to a nearby hanger to call for help. I could only wait, as I couldn't feel my legs and my arms wouldn't work. I was sure that I wouldn't make it out of the field alive. The thoughts that run through your head are so unreal.
Help did come, and so did the storm. By the time the fire rescue showed up the storm was in full force. Lightning and thunder filled the skies and it was raining so hard you couldn't see the other side of the canal twenty feet away. I remember the firemen saying if they didn't get me out soon, they would be the next victims. News that the hospital helicopter could not make it to the site because of the weather made me realize the severity of the situation.
I did make it to the hospital and spent thirty days in the intensive care burn unit. My body covered with burns over sixty percent of my body. Anyone who has ever been burned and has had to endure the scrub rooms and the treatment given to heal such severe burns can understand what I went through. As for others who can only imagine.....you can't. I had two different sets of surgery and skin grafts to repair the damage to my legs.
While in the hospital I was given the normal titles....FLASH.......SUPERMAN and my wife's favorite SPARKY. Its OK with me, I call myself names too. I'm now in physical therapy to help me regain use of my legs. I'm glad to say I have made great progress during therapy. The physical damage is almost gone, but the mental damage will take a longer period of time to overcome.
I have now the need to inform as many people as I can. I think I have learned a lesson that doesn't need to be repeated.
All of us that have spent any amount of time on the water know that sometime, no matter how bad the weather gets, we have fished in lightning and severe storms.
I live next to a park that has a lake in it. The Florida Fish and Game Department who welcome field trips from schools control this lake. They teach the kids what it is a game warden does in order to maintain the quality of the lake and fishing. They also teach catch and release principles and allow the kids a few hours to fish the lake (bait and gear supplied).
I have had the great pleasure to be able to attend these classes and share my story. These kids are magnets for knowledge. You show them what lightning does and explain the 30-30 rule, and they will remember it into their adult years. These kids can hold my now "real lightning rod" and see the damage, ask questions and get some answers first hand.
I have also made trips to both of my children's school during their "Parents Occupational" classes. They too, walked home with a new understanding and appreciation for lightning.
You don't have to be on the lake to get hit from lightning. You can be in your own yard, on a bike or the playground. It will still find you if you don't follow simple rules like the 30-30 rule. This rule states that if you see lightning and can hear the boom before the count of 30, the next place that lightning could hit is right where you're standing. And don't go back outside until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.
I hope you keep this information in the back of your head. Next time you're on the water with a storm approaching you'll think "Is it worth one more cast"?
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