National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Working Outside on Dock


Almost 2 years ago, I was working on a dock on the east coast of Florida. I remember several events immediately after being struck, but can't remember the order in which they happened.
At one point, I recall my brain racing trying to figure out what happened to me. One minute I was walking along fine and the next I wasn't sure which way was up or down and I seemed to be spinning. I also recall what seemed to be a period of time when all I could see was a white or grey color. It seemed to me as though I was almost flying.
Then I saw a bright flash at which point I suspect I landed on the dock. I could not move at all but my eyes were open and my head was tilted at an angle. I was told afterwards it started raining very hard but I could not feel anything. I could see blood dripping down across my eyes but could not close them.
According to conversations I had with witnesses afterwards, I was able to speak and explained that I thought I was struck by lightning.
I may have vomited because something was filling my mouth and causing me to choke. I tried to roll over and at that point I realized I could not feel or move my legs at all. The witnesses told me they thought my legs were broken. I was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital and an attempt was made to take me by helicopter to a trauma center, however the thunder storm had become too severe for flight.
During my ambulance ride, the paramedics were in communication with the hospital. The focus of attention seemed to concern the lack of pulse and sensation in my legs. I asked the paramedic if he thought my legs would need amputation and he told me probably not. I thought about life without legs for a moment, and then I suddenly became very calm. I'd never been hurt in my life and was too lucky. I was sure I would not lose my legs.
When I was being removed from the ambulance, I was certain I felt something brush against my foot and I told the paramedic. He said there was nothing touching my foot but I was sure I felt something. By the time I was placed in a bed in the emergency room the grotesque swelling in my legs had almost completely subsided and I could once again feel them. The paramedics were amazed. One of them examined my legs then walked over to me and looked me in the eyes and said, "Mister, you are one lucky man". 
It was at that point that I began experiencing pain unlike any other I'd had in my life. It started at my waist and would slowly rise to my head. I was given morphine by IV which dulled the pain for approximately 30 minutes after which I required more.
Due to an irregular heart beat, I was kept overnight and released the following afternoon. Throughout that night I went through periods when I felt very warm and other times when I shivered violently feeling very cold.
That was almost two years ago. I've been on many medications since then for chronic pain, heightened startle response, near total inability to sleep, heart palpitations, headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems, inability to concentrate, loud ringing in my ears, etc.
Not a day goes by when I am not asked what it feels like to be struck by lightning. I can't explain it to myself and therefore can't explain it to others. I truly believe that I had died at least for a short period of time. Several months later I visited the dock where this happened. The dock was damaged quite heavily from the lightning and still hadn't been repaired. It was a very eerie feeling.
Like another survivor had described on this page, I can now "feel" lightning before it strikes. I am certain of this.
While it is very difficult to remember exactly what happened that day, it is even more difficult to forget.
I am here to tell you there is nothing good that comes from being struck by lightning and I strongly urge everyone to take every precaution possible to avoid it.
If you are unfortunate enough to experience lightning first-hand, you very likely will regret it every single day for the rest of your life.