Lightning struck a motorcyclist as he drove on U.S. 285 Saturday. After the direct-hit, the motorcycle careened off the west side of the road, scattering gear from the machine.
Motorcyclist survives lightning hit on U.S. 285
Sue Price - Mail Staff Writer
A motorcyclist survived a direct-hit lightning strike Saturday as he drove northbound on U.S. 285 near Centerville about 12 miles north of Salida.
William John Carr, 53 of Pompano Beach, Fla., remained in critical condition at a Denver hospital at noon Monday according to a hospital spokesperson.
Chaffee County Sheriff Tim Walker reported Carr, a professional firefighter, was riding with three friends during a heavy thunderstorm about 4 p.m. near mile marker 138 when he was struck, knocking Carr and his motorcycle off the west side of the road into a ditch.
Walker said Carr suffered fractures to the face and head and numerous electrical burns.
Dirk Peratt, owner of the Rock Doc at Centerville, was first on scene.
Peratt said the bolt that hit Carr was "the biggest lightning strike I've ever seen. We felt this buzzing and the glass in the shop windows bowed in with the force."
When they saw headlights "careening off the highway," Cindy Peratt called 911 and Peratt ran to Carr's side within 30 seconds.
Peratt said Carr was thrown from his motorcycle and was non-responsive, but had a pulse. All the plastic parts of the bike were disintegrated and the dashboard was "blown apart in a million pieces," he added.
"Half of his leather jacket and shirt was just blown off him. His helmet was in pieces on the highway.
"His hair was completely singed and he had a 2-inch round hole on the top of his head. His neck looked broken," Peratt said.
Blood was seeping from Carr's tear ducts, nose and ears he said.
Peratt covered Carr with a blanket. Several other witnesses arrived to help.
Carr's friends, also Florida firefighters, were traveling ahead and it took about five minutes for them to circle back to find him.
Personnel from Chaffee County Fire Protection District, Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services, Chaffee County Sheriff's Department and a Colorado State Trooper were on scene by 4:13 p.m.
"EMS did an outstanding job," assistant fire chief Charlie Blake said. "They worked on Carr about 15 minutes doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and got a rhythm. He had a strong pulse when he left the scene. It was a great effort by everyone involved."
Carr was transported by ambulance from Salida to Cañon City then airlifted to a Denver hospital.
"I couldn't fathom a guess of what the odds are of getting hit by lightning while riding a motorcycle down the highway are, and then to survive not just that, but crashing afterward. Unbelievable," Blake said.
"I've never seen anything like that in my life."
Walker agreed it was an unusual incident. "I've never heard of (a direct hit while driving) happening," he said.