Central Texas Woman Survives Lightning Strike
A Central Texas woman is recovering after being struck by lightning, and she says the experience has given her a whole new, positive outlook.
Oh, and her shoes may have saved her life.
Victoria Hoover, 35, recently moved to Marlin from Houston. She was sitting in her Marlin apartment watching Sunday's severe weather roll in when she was hit. When a relative of hers told me Victoria's story, I reached out to her on Facebook and she was kind enough to tell me her story.
I know you're still recovering, so it's very kind of you to take time to share your story. I guess my first question would be, how is your recovery going?
Victoria: Quite well. Surprisingly, I sustained much less physical damage than you might expect after an encounter with a direct lightning strike. I still have quite a bit of hearing loss in my left ear and I tire a little easier than before but other than that I'm okay. I was very lucky.
Glad to hear you're recovering well, considering. Can you walk me through what happened?
Victoria: This past Sunday night, June 12th, I was home alone sitting in a chair a few feet away from one of the windows in the living room and looking for the storm.
I live in a three story brick building in downtown Marlin, Texas and since the first story is composed of two storefronts we live on the second and third floors with the main public space, where I was, on the second floor.
The power in town had been off for well over half an hour and I had closed all the windows and was just waiting for the rain and worrying about tornadoes. Trouble from lightning never even crossed my mind; I've always loved watching it in storms.
The rain had not even begun to fall and the storm still seemed quite far off when suddenly a lot of things happened in an instant.
There was a blinding flash of light, the sound of shattering glass, and a colossal boom of thunder and in an instant I was across the room, barefoot, and with the left side of my hair on fire. I had been directly struck by a bolt of lightning.
Scary stuff. Was anyone else home? Do you remember how you got to the hospital?
Victoria: No one else was home. I remember how it felt; how much it hurt. I remember frantically beating at my head to put the fire out and then everything going grey as I passed out.
I'm not sure how long I was unconscious. It probably wasn't long. I could only see one of the shoes I had been wearing and it was still smoking.
The power was back on though and I saw my cell phone nearby. I had luckily dropped it in a hamper full of clothes by the door when I had entered the room earlier so I was able to just reach out and grab it to call 911.
I had trouble making myself understood and helping the operator to find me but she stayed on the line and made sure they found me. I think the fire department found me first. There is a fire escape on the side of our building and they used that to come through the same window the lightning had blown out.
It was surreal. I remember shadowy figures and then the lights in the room being on and telling them frantically I couldn't make my legs work then it was off to the hospital.
I was taken first to the hospital in Marlin, then by ambulance to another hospital in I think Temple, and finally two hours to the burn unit at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
The lightning appeared to have struck my left temple and traveled down. I had these burns called Lichtenberg Figures on my left breast but no exit burn.
The doctors told me they feared internal injuries. They also told me I had several seizures in the ambulances, perhaps one was in the hospital. It's all a blur. Someone told me they had never seen anyone survive lightning before. One room was very, very crowded. Things seemed muffled then too loud.
The things I remember most clearly were I always hurt, especially my head, the lights everywhere were way too bright, I was in a constant state of panic about my paralysis, and a very nice paramedic named Bear introduced himself before looking under my shirt because he was polite.
Were there any internal injuries?
Victoria: I'm happy to say there were no internal injuries. They really couldn't find much wrong with me at all. The paralysis, while one of the scariest ever, only lasted about 4 hours.
The truth is the effects of direct lightning strikes on humans is very unpredictable and poorly understood. It happens so infrequently there just hasn't been the funds or need to fully study it. So while it may stop one persons heart another person, like me, can make it out remarkably unscathed. In my case the doctors referred to me as a "miracle" and I have been told over and over how lucky I am.
Do the doctors have any idea how you survived?
It is a general opinion that the thick foam flip flops I was wearing saved me in that they took the brunt of the attack in a way.
I still have these shoes and also my slagged glasses. These pictures were taken by me on my cell phone.
I've also looked up stories of other survivors on the internet and sadly their accounts, even without major injury, are very bitter. Personality changes, fits of rage, blame, confusion, and loss of job or marriage are unfortunately common themes.
I have experienced a very different emotional outcome. I had been a bit depressed before the lightning and now I find I am happier and more hopeful. My takeaway from this experience is life is full of twists that you can never predict so don't allow trivial things to ruin it. Be happy as you can and grateful for all life brings, even the worst things. They shape us and make us who we are and I really like me.
And the emotions behind that are far less greeting card and simple than words can say.
I would really like to thank the entire emergency services of Marlin, Texas. Their response time and caring was amazing.
I'm happy to hear that something so positive has come out of this! With everything crazy going on in the world right now, it's really an inspiration. Wes Adams would like to know if there's anything on your roof above where you were sitting. We might caution people to be careful around such objects.
Victoria: Not that I'm aware of. I do live very close to the former Falls Hotel which has several tall lightning rods atop it. So while you never know where lightning may strike it happily hits very few people ever year. So they can take comfort in the fact that while nothing is ever impossible it is highly improbable.
And while it didn't work for me, staying indoors during thunderstorms is always your safest bet.
I would really like to thank the entire emergency services of Marlin, Texas. Their response time and caring was amazing. I was even told many members of these departments came to check on me in the hospital. Talk about a caring town.
Thank you for sharing this story with our audience. What happened to you was horrific, but it's great that you're pulling through and being positive. I'm sure it'll be inspirational to our audience. It certainly has been to me!
Victoria: I'm glad!
Now, I have to ask (because I know our audience will): What brand of shoes were these and where did you buy them?
Victoria: I bought them a few years back at Walgreens I think. Maybe part of the Sand and Sun line. I know they were just cheap flip flops, cost me less than ten dollars. Considering what they may have saved me, quite a value indeed!
Big Q, Our Head of Production, wants me to ask you what your lotto number picks would be.
Victoria: Hmmm... 8, 12, 26, 35, 42, 51. But if you win I want a gift basket.
Deal! Any last thought for our listeners?
Victoria: The most important thing I would like people to take away from my experience is this. Nature, just like everything else in life, can catch you by surprise and change your life in an instant but the most important thing is how you choose to view those changes. Will you be bitter or accepting? I choose to live with joy no matter what curve balls life throws me. I hope you can too.