Struck by lightening

Teacher recounts previous experiences with lightning

Miranda Molina, Reporter

As it begins to rain, a bright streak of lightning flashes across the sky and a boom of thunder shakes the ground. Seeing the lightning makes Robotics and Project Lead The Way teacher Sean Denny start to remember the first time he was struck by lightning when he was in middle school.
“I have been struck twice, both indirect,” Denny said. “The first time, I was camping with a bunch of guys [and my dad]. [The lightning] hit a tree about 10, 20 yards away from us. We all got shocked, [because] it bounced from the tree and dispersed to all of us. It knocked us all over; it was almost like getting hit by a wall. All of us tensed up.”
When the lightning struck, Denny was not quite aware of what had happened at first. He was also left a bit unaware of his senses.
“We figured it out pretty quick,” Denny said. “But we didn’t realize right away. We had seen the flash, but it all happened so fast, it took us a second. I was a little groggy; it was blunt force trauma.”
Quickly after the shock, Denny and his friends got into their vehicles and decided to head back to their own homes. He chose not to go to the emergency room, because he did not feel like anything was wrong.
“We freaked out, packed all of our stuff [and] got into [our] vehicles,” Denny said. “We were like, ‘We’re gonna die!’ And then we were fine. I went home, told my mom I got struck by lightning, and she said I couldn’t go camping with my dad again.”
However, when he was struck by lightning the second time, he had just graduated high school and was walking home from work. As he walked home, a streak of lightning hit a steel light post, arched from the light post, entered his calf and exited through his foot. The lightning left him with several injuries.
“I had first, second and third degree burns,” Denny said. “It felt a little charred where it went in, and then it burned me pretty bad where it came out. I used to have some scars but they faded.”
Before the lightning hit him, Denny saw everything unfold in front of him. While the first time left him groggy, the second time all of his senses were alert.
“I saw the lightning hit the pole, and then go from the pole to my leg,” Denny said. “’Because I saw the whole thing happen, I thought, ‘Okay I’m dead.’ Then it really, really hurt, so I thought, ‘Okay, my leg is on fire.’”
After he got hit, Denny realized that if the light post was not there, or if the lightning had hit his shoulder instead, it would have killed him.
“If it hit me directly or closer, I would have died,” Denny said. “If the lamp post hadn’t been there, it would have hit me directly. But, since the lamp post is a better conductor, [the lightning] went there first, so I got only part of it. If it hit me in a different place, it would have [gone] to my heart and killed me. Since it went in through my leg, nothing happened.”
After the lightning struck him, his mother sent him to the emergency room to get treatment for his burn marks. Because of his experiences, he refuses to go outside when there is thunder and lightning.
“I can wait,” Denny said. “I get inside as quickly as possible.”
After getting struck twice, Denny said he would rather not get struck a third time.
“They say, ‘Third time’s a charm,’ but I don’t know what charm that would be,” Denny said. “I don’t want to be that charming.”