Lightning survivor tells his story and how lightning safety has improved

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:03 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 6, 2022 at 9:40 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - In July of 2013, Lucas Schrock-Hurst’s life changed in an instant.

“So some of us climbed a tree and it was a nice day when we went up the three and was there for about ten minutes. It started getting really windy, super windy... branches were going back and forth and we said we should get down and then bam we got hit,” said Lucas.

Lightning struck the tree they were in with Lucas’ friends falling out of the tree. Lucas remained in the tree getting the worst of the strike. “Well the main thing is that my heart stopped but fortunately the paramedics were able to defibrillate me and at the time I didn’t have any brain damage from the lack of oxygen to my brain but then my only lasting scars I have is where my flip phone exploded in my pocket and a bad IV that I got that left a scar,” said Lucas, who gained the nickname ‘Lightning Lucas’ after the event.

Lucas said there was no indication a storm was approaching until he felt the strong gust of wind about 20 seconds before the strike. He said the sky was blue as him and his friends were climbing the tree. 8 years later, he knows things have changed. “I just think the prevalence of smartphones has enabled us to be much more aware of weather forecasts and you can check it before you do something like climb a tree,” Lucas said.

Just because it isn’t raining doesn’t make you safe from a lightning strike. This is why outdoor facilities delay sporting events or close the pool when thunder is heard. Lightning can strike up to 15 miles away from a storm which also means it may be sunny out and there’s no way of knowing where lightning will strike. “We used to have soccer games rained out by lightning or whatever. We used to go inside and I thought that was really dumb but now I think that it saves lives,” Lucas said.

This lightning strike in Virginia struck 15 miles away from the storm
This lightning strike in Virginia struck 15 miles away from the storm(WHSV)

‘Lightning Lucas’ has a song about his story of the lightning strike. You can listen to it here.

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