LIGHTNING JACKPOT? - Oklahoma man struck six times
By Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz, Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
/ Published April 16, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. -- The odds of being struck by lightning more than once in your lifetime are one in 360 billion, according to Ken Mellendorf, a physics professor at Illinois Central College.
Meet Carl Mize ... the guy who gives odds-makers headaches. He has been zapped by lightning six times!
"Some people say I'm unlucky, but I think I'm kind of lucky to be alive," said Mize, a utilities worker at Oklahoma University in Norman, Okla.
Mize's first encounter with lightning was at a rodeo in 1978 when lightning struck the truck he was touching. It knocked him down, but he suffered no serious injury. The second time, in 1994, Mize was holding a crowbar when lightning hit a nearby telephone pole. The lightning traveled through the pole and crowbar, ripping the metal bar from his hand and giving him quite a jolt ... but still no severe damage.
Two years later in 1996, lightning zapped him a third time while he was "lying down on the job." The lightning split a nearby tree and traveled into some underground cables he held. Mize was hospitalized for three days as the current went into his chest.
"When struck, you feel like you've had the heck beat out of you," Mize said. "All of your muscles are tight, and you hurt all over."
The fourth strike happened at his Norman home in 1999. While his family took cover in the basement from an approaching tornado, Mize was outside when the lightning hit a tree and traveled through a swing chain he held in his hand.
The fifth strike came in 2005 while he repaired a water main. That strike led to an abnormal heart rate, landing Mize in the hospital again.
"I'm more nervous now than I was years ago," Mize said. "I kept thinking, 'It can't happen again,' but it did."
The sixth and latest strike happened in 2006 when Mize, who raises livestock, was trying to cover some hay before an approaching storm.
"My life didn't change too much until the last strike in 2006. I guess I'm getting older and am worried if I get struck again it may kill me," the 52-year-old said. According to Mize, his wife, three daughters and eight grandkids have become his own storm warning system.
"My daughters freak out every time there is a storm in the area," Mize said. "My friends will e-mail me or text me when there is a storm coming to tell me to go inside."
Roy Sullivan, a park ranger at Shenandoah National Park for 36 years, holds the world record with seven lightning strikes between 1942 and his death in 1977. Although he's close, Mize says he would rather retire than be so "lucky" with lightning.
"I don't want to break the record for strikes," he said. "I'm very afraid of being struck again." His advice to others if there is a storm in the area? "Stay inside!"