Man struck by lightning at Durham swim and tennis club

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Friday, July 6, 2018
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Lightning struck this tree and traveled down, injuring a 74-year-old food-truck customer.

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- A food truck customer was struck by lightning Thursday at Fairfield Swim & Tennis Club in Durham.

Milly Wodarz organizes the club's food truck rodeo every Thursday. She was on the porch urging people to come inside from the storm when the lightning struck the man standing in line for the mac and cheese truck.

"I heard this loud crack and saw this huge flash and I thought immediately, wow that was really close," she said. "And I saw the tree limbs start to fall down and then I heard someone scream someone's hurt, someone's hurt."

It happened shortly after 6:30 p.m. at the club in the 7600 block of Rosemont Parkway.

The Durham Fire Department said the 74-year-man was standing in the food-truck line, holding an umbrella, when he was struck.

Tyler Auten told ABC11 that the man had just ordered a sandwich from his truck, the Cow and the Oak. Auten said he pulled the sandwich off the grill and was about to inform him that his sandwich was ready when the lightning struck.

The club's assistant manager, Maurice Thorpe rushed up to help. He said the victim was breathing and able to speak.

"I was downstairs working when we heard this big boom," Thorpe said. "When I went over I checked his vitals. He had a strong heartbeat. He was still oriented."

The man was conscious when he was rushed to the hospital.

He was taken to UNC Burn Center for treatment. Officials did not immediately disclose his identity.

The lightning traveled down the tree and struck the man, tearing apart the umbrella. Eyewitnesses initially told ABC11 that they thought a food truck operator had been struck by lightning but Durham FD officials clarified it was a customer who was injured.

The victim's condition is unknown but a lightning strike is considered critical because of the burns and the effect it has on the body, particularly the heart, said DFD Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi.