‘Get out of the way:’ New Smyrna Beach firefighters warn about lightning after 2 struck

Landscaper sent to hospital in critical condition after lightning strike

Firefighters said they’re seeing more people start to risk it during storms and have a stern warning to give.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Firefighters said they’re seeing more people start to risk it during storms and have a stern warning to give.

Two people were hit by lightning Tuesday in New Smyrna Beach just 30 minutes and two miles apart, according to fire officials.

The first 911 call came in around 4 p.m. on Tuesday from Middlebury Loop. First responders said a landscaper was working on a property when lightning hit him and a tree next to him. Callers said the tree caught on fire and neighbors rushed in to give the man CPR. Firefighters said the Good Samaritans brought back his pulse.

“There was an entry and an exit wound,” said Battalion Chief Don Snell, “It was a direct hit. So they transported him to Halifax.”

Snell said he was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

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Snell said it was then 30 minutes later when the next call came from just two miles away at the AutoZone Auto Parts on Route 44. He said this time it wasn’t a direct hit though.

“Lightning hit a tree; the gentleman was standing next to the tree. The energy threw him to the ground, so he sustained some minor injuries,” he said.

Snell said they’re seeing more people risking it or not taking proper cover this summer.

“If you’re out on the beach or you’re standing next to trees or tall structures then there’s a chance that energy may have a direct hit or even if it hits the object you’re still going to get a lot of that energy transfer,” he said.

Central Florida is the most active lightning hotspot in the country when it comes to lightning per square mile and a strike can travel up to 10 miles.

Snell said to keep that in mind next time you see the storms starting to roll in.

“When you see those heavy storms building and all of that energy transfer is going to come back down to the earth somewhere. So the best thing to do is to get out of the way,” he said.

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About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.