LINCOLN, N.Y. – In a tragic turn of events, a sudden lightning strike claimed the life of a man and injured two others in Lincoln, New York, on Monday. The victims, all roofers by trade, had sought refuge under a tree during a storm, unaware of the impending danger.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office reported that the men were working on a residential project when the storm rolled in. They decided to wait it out under a tree, a decision that would prove fatal. At approximately 2:30 p.m., a bolt of lightning struck a nearby flagpole, its deadly current reaching the trio.
Emergency responders arrived on the scene to find a 39-year-old man unconscious and without a pulse. They managed to resuscitate him and promptly transported all three men to a local hospital. While two of the workers were treated for minor injuries and released, the third man’s condition deteriorated. He was moved to a trauma center, where he tragically lost his battle for life.
This incident marks the seventh lightning-related fatality in the U.S. this year, according to the National Lightning Safety Council.
Lightning strikes are deceptively dangerous. The bolt that hit the flagpole didn’t directly strike the workers. Instead, it created a “ground current” – a deadly wave of electricity that spread through the ground from the point of contact, reaching the men under the tree.
Lightning, while not having a temperature of its own, can superheat the air and any object it passes through to temperatures five times hotter than the sun’s surface, leading to severe burns. The electrical jolt can also wreak havoc on the body’s cardiovascular system, potentially causing cardiac arrest. When it hits the nervous system, it can damage nerve cells, induce temporary paralysis, and even cause brain vessels to burst.
The National Weather Service warns that there is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. They advise seeking shelter in a sturdy building or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle as soon as you hear thunder. If caught outside with no safe shelter nearby, they recommend avoiding elevated areas, isolated trees, bodies of water, and objects that conduct electricity.