North Dakota family knows from experience lightning can strike twice

Severe Weather

In the last 10 years, an average of 27 people died per year due to lightning strikes. And that number is actually down from 30 years ago when 43 deaths a year was the average.

Overall, getting struck by lightning isn’t very common. So far in 2019, there’s been no reports of people getting struck by lightning in the US. 

I met a family in North Dakota who knows from experience that lightning CAN strike twice.

“Don’t go outside when it’s lightning,” says Jerry Mitchell.
 
Mitchell was only 16 the first time he encountered lightning.
 
“I’d run away and walked out of the shed. And I was probably 75 feet from this shed and the lightning struck and it hit that and threw me back 50 feet or better right on my behind, you know.”
 
Afterward, he laid there like a ghost not knowing what to do.
 
“I didn’t pass out. It was just like a big ole hurricane that just threw as hard as it could. And I went in the house and didn’t have the energy to do nothing,” says Mitchell.
 
How long did that last I asked him?
 
“Oh, about a day or so.”
 
He says he is perfectly fine now, but that it scarred him mentally for a while.
 
“When I got older to drive and I would still be scared for lightning for a while until I was in my early 20’s or whatever, but I kind of got over the fear.”
 
And bad luck with lighting runs in the family. Jerry Mitchell’s aunt, Rose Hettich, says lightning affected her family regularly throughout her life.
 
“The first time there was a prairie fire it was at night and I could actually see the flames.”
 
Hettich had lived on her farm in Hazelton for nearly 45 years, and she says every few years they would have a run-in with lightning, whether its a grass fire or even animals getting hit.
 
“Like I said sometimes we would find them the next day not even aware that anything like that had happened.”
 
While the fires and dead animals were costly to her farm she says there’s not much you can really do.
 
“You have to know how to manage when you are on a farm,” says Hettich.
 
Ultimately Hettich says the most important thing is just keeping yourself safe.
 
“You have to watch out for yourself as well cus that is something that can’t be replaced if you are involved with lighting.”
 
Hettich says spring is the worse time of the year to have lightning strikes, especially around the rocks she had on her farm. She adds she’s grateful for her friends and neighbors nearby that always lent a helping hand.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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