Mt. Morris woman survives lightning strike

June 4, 2014
Sharon Bennett

MT. MORRIS – Sharon Bennett said she believes somebody must have been watching over her last Wednesday when she was struck by lightning.

Though she still suffers headaches, stuffed up ears and an irregular heartbeat, which doctors said may go away, Bennett said, she apparently suffered no permanent physical injuries. “It’s a miracle,” she said.

Bennett, a retired secretary for Central Greene School District and now a member of the school board, was painting inside a garage at her home on Haines Ridge Road in Mt. Morris Wednesday afternoon when the storm hit.

It was shortly after 2 p.m. and Bennett said she was just about to paint a nearly 6-by-8-inch space above the garage door. The door was closed. “It had started to storm and I thought I’ll just finish this up and the wall will be done,” she said.

Bennett said she had just climbed up the metal ladder to reach the spot,when she saw a flash as lightning pass through the garage window. “It came through and struck me; it went into my hand, through my body and it came out my feet,” she said.

How did it feel? “Worse than sticking your finger in a light socket,” she said. “It knocked me off the ladder, but I landed on my feet. It didn’t knock me out. I just saw stars.”

The lightning traveled down the ladder and flashed again when it hit the concrete floor. Bennett said the bolt then apparently traveled to a nearby telephone pole outside, melting their telephone wires and burning a jack on their television.

Bennett’s husband, Bill, was also in the garage when the lightning hit and he felt the jolt. However, he didn’t know his wife had been struck.

Not wanting to worry him, she went to the porch and sat down. Bennett, who is an emergency medical technician, said she had pain in her jaw as if she had clenched her teeth and was concerned she might be having a heart attack.

She called her son, Tim, who is also an EMT, and he came and examined her. Her blood pressure was high, but she thought she would be all right. She later called her son again and had him take her to Monongalia General Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., to be examined just to make sure nothing was seriously wrong.

The hospital checked her eyes for possible burns, gave her an electrocardiogram and completed blood tests. Her first EKG was abnormal but the second was normal, she said. They admitted her overnight for observation.

In addition to the headaches, the stuffed ears, which she said are getting better, and the irregular heartbeat, Bennett suffered a kind of “flash burn’ to her skin from the lightning strike. “I was sunburned from head to toe,” she said. However, the sensitivity she felt in her skin lasted only for about 48 hours.

But what most amazes her is that the lighting hasn’t so far cause her any more serious problems such as those that may result from damage to any of her organs. “The doctors said my heart must be pretty strong to withstand a jolt like that,” she said.

The doctors, too, were amazed the lightning had not caused significant injury. “They said somebody must have been watching out for you,” Bennett said. And, she said, she tends to agree.

“Apparently, God has not finished with me yet,” Bennett said, after recounting the events of that day. “He must still need me here on earth,” she said.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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