Survivor Story: Robert
Beware Lightning Year Round
February 22, 1997, Robert, his father, three friends and two of
their sons went ice fishing on Moosehead Lake in Maine. In the
middle of winter, in Maine, no one would ever have expected a
thunderstorm. The weather started out misty with a mix of light
snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. Fishing was good though.
At one point, the group mistakenly thought they heard the sound
of freight train cars banging together in the distance.
What they actually heard was the sound of thunder from an approaching
thunderstorm. The weather then started to turn sharply colder
and small hail began to fall. When they realized that a thunderstorm
was approaching, they quickly packed up their gear and headed
their snowmobiles and tote sleds for shore.
starting home, lightning struck a tall pine tree on an island
several hundred yards away. The explosive force generated by the
lightning strike blew a large hole in the rock ledge next to the
tree. A football-sized chunk of dirt was thrown onto the ice 150
yards away, and rocks up to 100 lbs were thrown onto the ice 50
to 60 feet away. At the time of the discharge, several of the group
reported "fingers of lightning" or "rays of lightning"
coming from the lake around them; however, Robert doesn't remember
anything about the incident. As he rode on the back of one of
the tote sleds, Robert was a part of one of those "fingers
lightning discharge, unknown to them, charges were building up
in the men, on the ice, and in the air all around them. As they
prepared to leave, the men even reported seeing flickers or sparkles
in the air and a weird smell, most likely as streamers of charge
reached upward toward the approaching storm. When the lightning
struck nearby, the streamers discharged (what appeared to be fingers
of lightning from the lake), and the resulting current injured
Robert. He was knocked into the air and landed on the ground where
he lay temporarily unconscious. He regained consciousness and
was then rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment and observation.
Robert lost all memory of that day and was very weak for about
a week. He also experienced severe joint pain for several weeks.
Although most of the pain is now gone, he continues to suffer
headaches and has been told that he will likely continue to suffer
headaches for the remainder of his life, a constant reminder of
the incident, the dangers of lightning, and the fact that he's
lucky to be alive today.
the group were also injured by the discharge, but less severely.
The two children were taken to the hospital with burns, and some
of the others reported headaches and/or a tingling sensation hours
after the incident. All were very lucky that they weren't hit
directly by the main lightning discharge.
that built up on and around the men also built up on the lake
for a considerable distance from them. Snowmobile races were being
held on the lake, near Greenville, about two miles away. Apparently,
charges had also built up on the people and equipment at the races.
At the time the lightning struck the tree on the island, much
of the electronic equipment at the races went dead. Some of the
competitors reported hear a crackling sound in their earphones
just prior to the lightning strike, and when the lightning struck
their helmet earphones and microphones went dead. In addition,
the radar equipment used to measure the speed of the snowmobiles
also stopped functioning at the same time.