Only on 12: Aiken Co. woman survives close call with lightning strike

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WINDSOR, S.C. (WRDW) -- An Aiken County woman survived a close call with some severe weather Tuesday.

Jackie Watkins was at her house when an afternoon storm rolled through.

She says, "The sky was slowly clearing up by my house, and I figured, OK, it's passing, it's gone."

She was trimming a tomato plant by her front porch when she got quite a shock.

"All of a sudden, the next thing I knew a big flash of lightning was right behind me, and I turned around, and I looked and the lightning struck the tree right there at my front porch," she said.

The strike knocked down her tree, literally just feet from where she was standing.

"I was so close to it. It was like I felt the heat off of it, so I took off running. It scared me to death," she said.

The most shocking part to Watkins was that the strike came without any storm clouds left in the sky, which is something Columbia County EMA Director Pam Tucker says can happen anytime a storm comes through.

"Lightning most of the time will strike 10 miles away," Tucker said.

She says it's best to seek shelter, either in a closed structure like your house or car during a thunderstorm.

"You should stay inside until 30 minutes goes by and you haven't heard any additional thunder," she said.

Something Watkins and her family say they plan to do now.

"From now on, I'll stay in my house away from the windows and away from the weather," Watkins said.

Tucker says, "It's just not worth it. When storms come, just take shelter. What you're doing is not that important compared to saving your life."

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