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Witnesses describe lightning strike that hit shelter where 40 people were attending party in Lakeville

Richard Reeve
Updated: August 09, 2020 10:29 PM
Created: August 09, 2020 09:51 PM

Beau Moser knew something was wrong when he looked at the quickly darkening skies over Lake Marion. 

“Seeing the wall cloud coming in, and thinking that’s going to hit us,” he recalled. “We’re going to get stormed on again, so better get out of here.” 

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Moser, Gregory White and another friend had just finished a fishing outing and were beginning to drive away from Casperson Park when a bolt of lightning struck.

“All of a sudden, you're at the light, and it just lit up big blue, and just loud like an explosion,” White said. “It was definitely nerve-racking a little bit there.” 

"I seen the big flash out of the corner of my eye, and all of a sudden, about five seconds later we heard the boom and the crack,” Moser added.

Witnesses say the lightning strike made a direct hit on one of the park shelters around 5:25 p.m. 

A resident who lives a short distance from the park posted an image on social media of what he believes is the strike, caught on his Nest cam.  

Police say the bolt shot through the shelter roof, straight through to the concrete flooring, showering wood and tiles onto a group of 40 people attending a birthday party.

“They were just over there, a big family doing their thing,” Moser said. “I didn’t think anything that catastrophic would be that close.” 

Authorities say one person suffered minor burns and two others were hit by falling debris. 

Most everyone agrees it was a miracle no one was more seriously hurt. 

“It was pretty powerful,” Moser says. “Just to see the sheer disaster that can happen, a single lightning strike. Never expected that to happen.”

Arriving firefighters found broken-up support beams, a torn-up secondary roof and dislodged light fixtures. 

3 patients being evaluated after lightning strikes shelter at Lakeville park

It’s hard to know how powerful the bolt was. 

The National Weather Service says a typical lightning strike is about 300 million volts of electricity and about 30,000 amps of electricity, enough to power a 100-watt incandescent light bulb for three months straight.

The NWS says in comparison, household current is 120 volts and 15 amps. 

The weather agency also says a lightning strike can heat up the air up to 50,000 degrees, five times hotter than the surface of the sun. 

“It could have been worse, absolutely,” White says. “Just with the lightning hit itself, it could have put a bigger hole in the shelter, it could have brought down more wood.” 

NWS storm data shows the U.S. averages 43 reported lightning fatalities per year but says 90% of people struck survive with various levels of injury. 

Moser says he’s glad more people weren’t hurt. 

“Just having a simple barbeque, and Mother Nature has other plans,” he said. “Miracle. I think for what we see, and what lightning strikes have been known to cause for their damage-wise. I think we’re pretty lucky a lot more people are safe from it.”


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