A 23-year-old woman was killed by lightning at a Florida mud bog over the weekend and four other people were hurt, making it the second lightning fatality of the year in the United States. The lightning strike killied Kourtney Lambert at the Woodpecker Mud Bog in White Springs on Saturday afternoon.
Lambert was one of many participating in “mudding”, an activity in which people with 4×4 vehicles drive through muddy areas. When a thunderstorm approached, the group took shelter under a trailer’s gooseneck. Lightning from the storm struck a tree only 25-30 feet away, killing Lambert instantly in the process.
According to the National Weather Service, several people are killed by lightning every year. Last year, 16 people died; in 2016, 39 died, the most deaths over the last 10 year period.
Each year in the United States, the National Weather Service estimates that there are 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes and about 300 people struck by lightning. Of those struck, about 30 people are killed and others suffer lifelong disabilities. The National Weather Service collects information on weather-related deaths to learn how to prevent these tragedies. Many lightning victims say they were “caught” outside in the storm and couldn’t get to a safe place. Other victims simply waited too long before seeking shelter. With proper planning, similar tragedies can be avoided. Some people were struck because they went back outside too soon. Stay inside a safe building or vehicle for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder. While 30 minutes may seem like a long time, it is necessary to be safe. Finally, some victims were struck inside homes or buildings while they were using electrical equipment or corded phones. Others were in contact with plumbing, a metal door or a window frame. Avoid contact with these electrical conductors when a thunderstorm is nearby!
Lightning can strike and kill in any season. When thunder roars, head indoors; regardless of the season or temperature, lightning can kill. And if thunder is close enough to be heard, lightning is close enough to kill.