TWO American fishermen recently discovered the dangers associated with fishing with graphite rods during a storm.
Gabe Neal and his 17-year-old son, Christian were lake fishing when a nearby lightning strike startled them.
“Lightning hit and it was about four seconds, and I thought, ‘That’s pretty close,'” Gabe Neal told KMBC.com. Seconds later, they found out just how close it was.
“About the best way I could describe it is if someone hit you in the chest with a sledgehammer,” Gabe Neal said. “And I was in the water immediately – ‘boom’ and in the water.”
“And I felt like someone had just beat me and lit me on fire,” Christian Neal said.
“I was paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t move my legs or my toes or anything else.
“Immediately I realised my legs would not work, and it felt like they had been blown off. That was a pretty dark moment,” Gabe Neal said.
Disabled Iraq war veteran Andy Flippin had been fishing a few yards away with his girlfriend and father.
“I just heard this loud crack,” Flippin said, adding that his Army combat training kicked in and he raced over to help.
“As I got to (Gabe), he was getting ready to drown,” Flippin said.
“Then I went to Christian, who was still smoldering, and I dumped some water on him to put his hair out. I could tell he was the one who took the main hit from the lightning.”
“My heartbeat was so erratic, they said if they didn’t do something, it would kill me,” Christian Neal said.
Paramedics arrived just in time to take the men to hospital. Both are expected to fully recover. Christian Neal has suffered scarring from the ordeal which is expected to heal while Gabe Neal, who makes fishing rods for a living, said he thinks his graphite rod served as a lightning rod.
He thinks the lightning struck the rod first, instead of his son, and that may have saved his son’s life.