Pennsylvania man Killed by Direct
June 21, 2007
A substitute teacher at Mechanicsburg
Area High School was struck by lightning shortly after a severe
thunderstorm Tuesday evening.
Shawn Kelly, 24, had just stepped out the door of his parent's Benyou
Lane home in Fairview Township, when he was struck in the shoulder
by a lightning bolt, just before 6:30 p.m. The strike was so powerful
that it went through his feet and blew a hole into the concrete
driveway. The blast threw Shawn into his father, who was knocked
to the ground but not injured.
Kelly was pronounced dead at 6:20 a.m.
Wednesday at Hershey Medical Center after doctors could not stabilize
his heard, said Dauphin County Coroner Dr. Graham Hetrick.
Katie Kelly said that her brother,
Shawn has noticed a downed tree in the neighbor's front yard and
was going to help out, when he was struck. "It was barely even
raining. They thought the storm was over," she said.
Lightning can strike for 10 miles, carrying a wallop of several
hundred million volts, said John Jensenius, a meteorologist with
the National Weather Service and a lightning expert with the National
Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. If you can hear thunder, there's
still lightning around, he said.
"A lot of people get struck hen they think the storm has passed,"
Shawn Kelly's death was rare because he was directly hit. Only ten
percent of Lighting strike victims receive a direct hit, rather
than indirect contact with the ground or another object which is
"It was bad. The lightning was
just incredible. It was constantly flashing. I felt several lightning
strikes within a few hundred yards while we were out clearing roads
and helping other people," said Bill Carlisle, fire chief in
Carlisle was helping clean up downed
trees when the emergency call came in. He said he remembers how
the lightning smashed the concrete driveway into pieces and left
smoldering burn marks on Shawn Kelly's clothing.
Lightning killed 12 people in Pennsylvania
between 1995 and 2004, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric