BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A 56-year-old man survived getting struck by lightning on Friday. The strike happened at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Brighton.
Chip Wiman had been watching his daughter’s cross country meet when a storm moved in and he and other people took cover under a tree. Seconds later that tree was hit by lightning. He was the only one to actually lean up against the tree and had his lower back touching the trunk.
“There was just this huge monstrous boom,” Wiman said.
The bolt traveled down the tree, leaving a burn hole in Wiman’s t-shirt where it possibly entered, and another in his shorts. The fabric inside his shorts melted from the burns.
Wiman told CBS4 he couldn’t feel his legs after getting struck and thought he was paralyzed. It took about 15 minutes until he was able to gain function of his legs.
“My main concern was I couldn’t feel my legs. I thought my legs had got blown off. So when I looked down I was very happy to see I still had my legs,” Wiman said.
The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration says lightning can contain anywhere from 1 million to 1 billion volts of electricity; and that it can branch off from a tree to a person, as did the bolt that hit Wiman. The tree absorbed most of the bolt. The NOAA says anything that is hit directly by lightning can explode, burn, or be destroyed.
Wiman has burns on his buttocks and his thigh. The other side of his body is covered in road rash like scrapes after being knocked down from the explotion-like impact of the lightning.