‘I was flying through the air:’ Daughter, father recall being struck by lightning in Florida

2 were leaving Yankees spring training game in Tampa when lightning struck

John Moberg loves baseball. He’s a huge New York Yankees fan. In fact, John says he was about 5 years old before he realized he didn’t live in New York.

TAMPA, Fla. – John Moberg loves baseball. He’s a huge New York Yankees fan. In fact, John says he was about 5 years old before he realized he didn’t live in New York.

So it should come as no surprise the Chicago-area native passed the love of the game on to his daughter, Ashley.

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The two were visiting the Tampa Bay area to catch a Yankees spring training game. It was their first trip to Steinbrenner Field, which serves as spring home for the Yankees, so they knew it would be something they would never forget.

They had no idea just how memorable the trip would actually turn out to be because of a strike off the diamond.

Ashley and John joined anchors Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin on Florida’s Fourth Estate to talk about what happened to them that day and why they are both grateful they lived to tell the story of how they were both struck by lightning.

Ashley, 19, said she remembers most of the details because while the bolt knocked her off her feet, it rendered her 74-year-old dad unconscious. She said they were leaving Steinbrenner Field and they paused briefly so her dad could find the car keys.

Ashley said while her dad looked for the remote, she bent down to fix her shoes and that’s when it happened. She said first there was a bright flash then a big boom.

You can listen to every episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate in the media player below:

“The loudest boom I’ve ever heard in my life,” Ashley said.

“I saw my dad flying through the air. I was flying through the air. I saw him hit his head on the ground and my ears were ringing,” she continued. “I landed on the ground and because my dad was unconscious, not moving not speaking, I had thought he was dead for about 10 seconds there while I was just trying to steady my breathing and figure out whether or not I was dying.”

Ashley said she was blasted 6 feet out of her shoes from where she was standing and her dad was tossed about 3 feet. The jolt slammed her dad into the ground face first, breaking his cheekbone.

“My dad starting calling out to me for help. He didn’t know I was hurt as well,” she said. “I just started screaming out to anybody to help us. I was paralyzed in my right arm and my left leg so I had a hard time moving.”

John Moberg loves baseball. He’s a huge New York Yankees fan. In fact, John says he was about 5 years old before he realized he didn’t live in New York.

“Once I realized no one could hear me, I pushed myself up and crawled closer to my dad where I was able to try and wave down some cars. Luckily for us, a bystander had walked past, his name was Paulie, he stopped and called 911.”

Ashley called Paulie a bright spot in the chaos.

“He kept the crowds away from us. He waited with us until we were loaded into the ambulances and on the way to Tampa General,” Ashley said.

Ashley and John did not take a direct hit from the lightning.

“The lighting struck to my right side which would be further away from my dad,” she said.

She said she had been standing in about a half inch of water and was drenched from the rain when the bolt hit. John said he later learned from paramedics that the shoes he and his daughter were wearing likely saved their lives.

“I had boat shoes on and she had gym shoes on and they said that’s what saved us,” John said.

The two were visiting the Tampa Bay area to catch a Yankees spring training game. It was their first trip to Steinbrenner Field, which serves as spring home for the Yankees, so they knew it would be something they would never forget.

Halfway through the interview Ashley revealed before this, she had done a lot of research on lightning. She said she has always found it interesting. She knew enough about lightning to know that what hit them was a ground current. That’s when lightning strikes within 100 feet of someone and the voltage jumps across the ground, wet pavement or other wet pathway. Remember, Ashley said they had been standing in about an inch of water.

Had they taken a direct hit, Ashley said there would have been an entry or exit would much like being shot. Ashley did receive a bad burn on her neck where she was wearing a necklace and it melted into her skin leaving a scar.

Florida is no stranger to lightning strikes. It is known as the Lightning Capital of North America. In fact, according to a Tampa Bay Times article, Florida recorded the most lightning deaths in 2021 of any other state with four. All of them were along the Gulf Coast.

Ashley and her dad know things could have been a lot worse but the two vow to come back to Florida for another game and a trip to Disney.

The dad and daughter say this is just another story they will have to tell of their adventures together.

If you would like to see the entire interview with Ashley and John on Florida’s Fourth Estate, click on the link.

If you would like to know which Central Florida City saw the most lightning strikes in 2021, click here.


About the Author:

Ginger Gadsden joined the News 6 team in June 2014 as an anchor/reporter. She currently co-anchors the 4 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. newscasts.