Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Its July 9th. What do you remember about today?

So here is a non fiction story.  The setting is 19 years ago, today.  In an old mill town in southern New England.  This is how it happend, or so I am told....

A young boy was swimming in the family pool when a storm rolled through town like a two-bit carnival cutting short the refreshing swim.  Thunder. Lightening.  Rain.  Normal early summer storm; nothing too spectacular.  Just as the carnival rolled into town, it was gone.  But unlike most suspect carnivals, this one didn't leave that much of an impact.

20 or so minutes after the much-a-do-about-nothing storm some neighbors decide to pass the time with a friendly soccer "kick-around" in the spacious front yard while dad shoots baskets in the driveway across the street, enjoying the summer afternoon.

Then it happened.  As with perfect timing only a cheetah can match, a bolt of lightning came crashing down.  It may have hit a large oak tree.  It may have hit a whiskey barrel planter.  It may have hit the 14 year old boy running after a soccer ball.  Yes all of those scenarios are viable.  But it doesn't matter who or what was the direct hit.  The tree showed no signs of distress.  The planter's metal bands were smoking.  The boy, however, was on his way to a nice six foot flight across the yard.  (Six feet doesn't seem like a "flight" per se, but six up and six over in the opposite direction he was running is some feat.)  One other soccer player is down.  Another is down and back up.

Basketball dad comes running, feet barely hitting the ground.  His attention going towards the down soccer player but changes his direction when they rise.  His attention is now focused on the lone child not moving; his son.  When he turns his son over he sees the color fading from his face.  Immediately calls are out to 911 and soon the dispatcher is relaying CPR instructions.  Soon bystanders come to relieve the father of a duty that no father should ever have to do.  A neighbor's daughter.  An off duty Police Sergeant.  Soon the paramedics arrive.  Clothes are cut and torn exposing a burn from feet straight up to and around the neck and back to and around the waist with the most perfect bow at the belly.

The young boy is put into the ambulance and whisked across town the the hospital.  All the major intersections were closed for this one young life.  At the hospital he was flown to a bigger hospital, who were more equipped for such an emergency.  The twelve or so minute flight must have seemed like an eternity to the boys mother as he was shocked back into a stable rhythm more than a few times.

Once stable, the child is admitted into the ICU and put on breathing machines and all the necessary monitoring devices.   The parents, aunts, uncles and just about everyone close to the boy had a very long and tiring night ahead.

A 24 hour coma later the nurses were alerted to the boy's machines alarms.  DId he stop breathing?  Was there another complication?  What is going on?

It turns out this kid was a fighter.  He pulled out the breathing tube.  He pulled the monitor leads off.  He was done with that.  But what about his brain?  Would he be brain damaged?  Would he know his family?  Would he know anything?  Family and the doctors were thinking the same thing.  But at least he is alive.

Doctors do their thing, examining him.  Testing him.  It turns out the burns were the path the electricity took through the boy's body.  The burn around the neck was from a cheap necklace he had on, which may have turned the charge around and back to the wet ties in his swim trunks.  But what about his mental state?

Sleep.  Awake.  "Do you know where you are?"


"You're in the hospital.  Do you know why you are here?"


"You were struck by lightening."


That exchange went on for a few sleeps all the while watching "Ferris Beuler's Day Off" again and again and again.  This is not what the parents were hoping for.  Then one day the answers changed.  He KNEW where he was and WHY he was there.  The doctors were asking memory questions and he was getting them correct.  He knew his family.  His girlfriend.  He could even count backwards from 100 by three's (no easy feat, even for the doctors).

All told a week in the hospital, a couple of take home heart monitors and a neuro-psych test later he is given a clean bill of health.  So much so that he decides to take a 30 mile bike ride through the hills of northern Connecticut less than one month after the accident.  And you thought he wouldn't be ok.

So there is the story of how I was struck by lightening.  Some of the facts may not be 100% accurate, but I wasn't really there.  Its just pieces of what I remember people telling me.  To this day I have no recollection of July 5th through July 12 or 13.  I'm just gonna chalk it up to being a kid.


  1. Chris, I remember this day, and it was no fun! I'm so glad you pulled through the way you did. You have grown up to be an amazing father and husband, and I am proud to have had you in my life.

  2. Doesn't matter how many times I hear this story, I still get chills.......and I did cry.....again.
    You are an incredible role model that many men should emulate.....without the lightening incident of course....... :)
    Diane C-G