Lightning kills Aiken woman

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 First at Five, Jan. 11, 2008

AIKEN, S.C. --- Strong storms and lightning hit the Aiken area around 5AM Friday Morning. Two women working at Glaxo Smith Kline were taking a smoke break during the storm. One woman died.

Every year there are hundred of thousand of lightning strikes. About 100,000 people are struck every year. Early Friday morning, one woman was killed, another injured by lightning.

Doctor Fred Mullins sees about a dozen people every year who are struck by lightning.

"You either die or you live and there's no in between," says Dr. Mullins.

Any early Friday Morning, just that happened. Around 5, two women were taking a smoke break while working. They were standing under a tree near a metal picnic table holding umbrella's. That's when 32 year old Tabatha Collett says she believe she was struck by lightning. She survived, but her co-worker 56 year old Brenda Baker died. Collett is in fair condition at Doctor's Hospital in Augusta. Dr. Mullins describes what the initial reaction is.

"Typically, they look stunned, they look like they just woken up, just frazzle looking."

Jeanne Haid has seen lightning victims for 25 years.

"How do you treat them? The best that you can," says Haid, RN, MSN.

Sometimes you can see spotty burns on the body, but it's not what you can see, it's what you can't.

"When it comes through the body, muscles contract. They contract so hard, they can break bone," says Dr. Mullins.

An autopsy report shows Baker died of an irregular heartbeat caused by the lightning. Something you may not think about is when you see the strike but the loud sound of the lightning hitting can injury you too.

"You hear a big boom if you're standing right next to it. The sound waves can hit you and it's almost like you've been hit by a baseball bat," says Dr. Mullins.

Head injuries are the most common result from the sound waves. Recovery for these types of injuries really depends on the extent of the injury. About 25 percent of people died on the scene after the strike.


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