Troy man killed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2002

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On Monday, a Troy man became the fifth lightning-caused death in Alabama since the beginning of summer.

Family and friends gathered outside Edge Regional Medical Center to grieve for the man they had only spoken to hours before and seen just recently.

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Jason Carter, 18, of Troy, was struck by lightning about 12:20 p.m., according to information released by Chief Anthony Everage.

Cater had been cutting grass at Wiley Sander’s home when he, his stepfather and other employees took a lunch break.

Carter was walking toward the guardhouse when he passed a nearby tree just as it was hit by lightening, and the electricity from the bolt reached Carter, who was about 12 feet away from the tree.

"They were fixing to break to eat lunch. He had his hamburger in one hand and a drink in the other hand," said Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the TPD.

"Somehow it traveled and struck him. He never knew what hit him," he said.

No one saw the strike, but Scarbrough said the lightning could have either struck the tree and deflected, hitting Carter, or possibly traveled through the ground to strike Carter.

"One of the gentlemen

(also working there) heard it and saw the young boy fall to the ground," Scarbrough said.

Two other employees administered CPR until Haynes Ambulance arrived on the scene.

Carter was pronounced dead later at Edge Regional Medical Center.

Those who knew him described him as being helpful and pleasant.

"He was a real outgoing guy and everybody liked him. You never heard a bad thing about anybody come out of his mouth," said Jonathan Jarman, of Troy, who used to work with Carter.

In past three weeks, an 8-year-old girl from Montgomery was struck and killed by lightning and three children died in a Marion County house fire started by a lightning strike.

If it was not only halfway through summer, the number might not seem as staggering, experts said.

However, the prime season for lightning strikes is between May and September, and it is only the beginning of July.

"I don’t know if this is the largest [death toll], but it is certainly right up there, and we’re only halfway through the summer," said meteorologist Brian Peters with the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

The so-called season is so because many people are enjoying the summertime by spending time outdoors.

"A lot of people are outside doing outside things, and that makes us more susceptible to lightning," Peters said.

Lightening is a powerful electrical charge that disrupts the body’s electrical system by disturbing the heartbeat and the electrical charges to the brain.

"The doctors I have talked to have told that it’s a lot like being affected by the electrical paddles used on the medical television shows. Lightning basically disrupts the heart, and that’s usually what kills the person," Peters said.

Lightening usually passes through the body and the burn marks are made where it enters and leaves the body.

"The best advice I can give people is to take lightning seriously and not to believe the old wives tale about how if there’s no rain then there’s no threat. You can still get struck by lightning," Peters said.

The NWS also suggests that people listen to their bodies, which can sometimes feel a tingle when the chemistry is right for lightning.

Although there is no guarantee for how much time a person has to get away, it is at least a warning. "If people feel a tingle, we usually suggest that they stay on the balls of their feet instead of lying flat on the ground. You don’t want to lie flat, but you want to be the smallest thing possibly by crouching," Peters said.

The NWS reminds people not to be the highest point when lightning is possible, because lightning is attracted to tall objects.

"You don’t want to be the highest thing and you don’t want to stand under the tallest thing. It’s also a good idea to stay away from any pathway that lightning could follow, such as a metal fence," Peters said.

The NWS also advises people not to be in a lake or even in a boat on a lake, because being in a boat would make the occupant the highest point. The same goes for farm equipment.