A Nanoose Bay couple are counting their lucky stars after a close encounter with some high voltage on Wednesday afternoon.
Wendy Mazzei said at approximately 2:30 p.m. on June 9, her husband, Terry, had just arrived at the Fairwinds Wellness Club and was about to exit his truck when a bolt of lightning pierced the sky and struck the tree behind him.
“It was like an explosion, is how he described it. And he could see the light behind him. And it was very loud – he said his ears hurt, especially his right ear,” said Wendy Mazzei.
She speculates the lightning travelled down the tree, struck a different unoccupied truck in the parking lot before jumping to Terry’s truck, a 1999 Blue Toyota Tacoma, with Terry still inside.
When her husband eventually did exit, assuming it was safe to do so, Mazzei said he described the atmosphere as ‘static-y’ and that he could see rainwater evaporating off the pavement.
Aside from sore ears – akin to how it feels after a rock concert, Mazzei said – and a headache Wednesday night, Terry walked away from the experience relatively unscathed.
The truck itself also experienced minor damage; the front passenger tire had blown, and they later discovered the gas gauge no longer worked.
Mazzei said her husband is currently dealing with ICBC, and as it stands, they are unsure if insurance will cover the cost of repairs.
As it turns out, Terry’s Toyota Tacoma originally belonged to his late father, prompting Terry to keep a photo of him in the driver’s visor.
“We like to think that his dad was watching over him,” said Mazzei.
Wednesday’s scare was not the only time the couple has had a close call with the forces of nature.
“The only thing we’ve ever experienced like that before was when we were at Christina Lake one summer. We were watching over a deck at a storm coming across the lake and a lighting bolt hit the park in front of us, about 300 or 400 yards away. And it (the strike) made us want to fly backwards.”
While researching lightning statistics to satisfy her own curiosity, Mazzei said she came across an interesting fact that claimed lighting strikes often tend to happen on Wednesdays and on weekend days, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
This statistic was presented on the Canadian Red Cross website, and references an article written by the National Lightning Safety Institute, an organization in Colorado that studies lighting storms on a global scale.
According to the Environment and Climate Change Canada website, between two and three lightning-related deaths occur on average a year, with 180 lightning-related injuries.
In terms of gender demographics, male victims account for 85 per cent of fatalities and 63 per cent of non-fatal injuries.