The Secret Society of Lightning Strike Survivors
After the sudden and intense drama of getting hit, they suffered from devastating symptoms that wouldn’t go away. It seemed like no one could help—until they found each other.
The Jack Britt High School girls’ soccer team was playing on a muggy evening in Fayetteville, North Carolina, when the sky grew dark. It was on September 30, 2015. Shana Williams Turner, a 46-year-old teacher in the school’s special education department, was supervising at the gate that leads to the field. She watched as the weather started to turn.
Thunder rumbled above, each clap bringing lightning closer. When a bolt struck close by, the players and coaches were escorted inside by supervising staff. Shana kept guard outside, the heavy rain soaking her shoulder-length auburn hair, red trousers and white shirt. After 30 minutes, the storm appeared to calm and the match resumed. Then, Shana saw another lightning bolt hit a grocery store across the street. Scared, she and the choir teacher, Richard Butler, ran to a nearby ticket booth to find shelter. With barely enough room for both of them inside, Butler sat down and Shana leaned against the metal door.
Lightning struck again with a deafening crack. A transformer, 30 feet away, exploded and burst into flames. Shana felt excruciating pain, as if her shoulders had been reduced to burning jelly, and she was thrown to the concrete. “Fuck!” she cried out.
Butler helped pick her up as other colleagues rushed over and asked what had happened. “I don’t know exactly. I think I got struck by lightning,” Shana replied — even today, her memory of the event is blurry. “What do you need?” They asked repeatedly. “I don’t know what I need. But my arm is on fire, my feet are tingling and my chest hurts,” she moaned. Shana’s 15-year-old son Dillon, the youngest of her four children, had seen everything. A student at the school, he had been waiting for a ride back home. “Mom,” he cried. “You swore!”
Shana got up. By outward appearances, she seemed fine, if a little dazed. No one called an ambulance, and she received no medical attention, not even from the first responder there for the game. Shana was stunned. “Did I really just get struck?” she thought to herself.
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