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Killed by Lightning

Perhaps it is just that the networks have drastically improved their regional reporting; but there has seemingly been an unusual number of individuals struck and killed by lightning since the current rainy season started. Just now on the regional news, one 16-year old boy was killed and three companions were hospitalized after being struck by lightning in Nagcarlan in Laguna.

“Nangingisay na pô at sumusuka ng dugô,” one of the survivors described his companions after the lightning strike. He was able to cry out for help; and although they were all some distance off-road, fortunately his cries were heard and others came to help.

From what I could make of the story, three of the youths had climbed up a tree in a grove to pick santol. All three fell off the tree and had bruises all over but survived.

The fourth, who was on the ground standing close to a banana tree, was killed. Just a classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It was the banana tree, of all things, that was hit dead center by the lightning bolt.

Take off things that attract lightning such as silver and avoid standing close to tall things like trees, the reporter advised. For good measure, it was reported that the boy who was killed had ‘some silver’ on his person.

Seek shelter, the reporter further advised, which probably made more sense. A lot of good this did a farmer somewhere in Bicol last May, however, who had sought shelter under a makeshift hut in the middle of a ricefield once the thunderstorm started.

The poor farmer was killed; and his companions hospitalized. Who would have thought?

I used to have a really gung-ho attitude towards lightning when I was so much younger. True, they could be frighteningly loud; but who really anybody who was hit by lightning?

The probability of actually being hit seemed at best remote.

In fact, in the United States, it is estimated that the odds of a person being hit by lightning in a year is pegged at one in one million. Of those actually hit, only ten per cent is actually killed.

Thus, with my first few teams, a thunderstorm was never a deterrent to scrimmage. If anything, there seemed perverse excitement from the thunderclaps exploding all over.

Those who have played football under a heavy downpour with the pitch inundated know it is both frustrating and heaps of fun. The flashes of lightning, if anything, added to the fun.

How foolhardy it had all been, I now know in retrospect; and how fortunate that fate never took us up on our wager against it.

That cavalier attitude changed sometime in the nineties when I saw on TV this item about an African league match when for no apparent reason players simultaneously collapsed on the field. The field was drenched from an ongoing downpour and replays later showed in slow motion a bolt of lightning hitting the ground.


From that day on, whenever there was a thunderstorm menacingly close, I made sure I called everyone in to seek shelter. I guess the laws of probability will always come into consideration whenever there is an ongoing thunderstorm.

There just seems no sense of increasing the odds of getting actually getting hit. It cannot be fun to have all that electric current going through you.

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