Golfers describe surviving lightning strike

 

19 men knocked out as they emerged thinking storm was over

 

NBC News and news services

Updated: 9:40 a.m. ET June 22, 2004

 

KREMMLING, Colo. - Survivors of a lightning strike that knocked out 19 golfers over the weekend told NBC's "Today" show Tuesday that the lightning arced from man to man as they emerged from their cars thinking the storm had passed.

 

John Reyes said that when he came to he first felt "totally paralyzed" and then felt a surge of pain and heat. "I thought I was on fire," he told "Today."

 

Sean McManus said he experienced a "dead feeling from my chest down."

 

The lightning strike caught the golfers by surprise during a tournament set up on a makeshift course last Saturday. Four of the men were hospitalized and 15 others suffered minor injuries while playing golf atop a bluff in northwest Colorado.

 

Participants, who had gone to their cars during the storm, were hit as they returned to the bluff thinking the lightning had passed.

 

"All of a sudden it felt like someone hit me over the head with a baseball bat," said Kim Douglass, who was standing near the group of men.

 

Four of the men were flown to Denver-area hospitals with what authorities said were life-threatening injuries. By Tuesday, all were expected to fully recover.

 

Across the nation, some 100 fatalities a year are attributed to lightning strikes. Experts advise people to stay indoors 30 minutes after seeing lightning.

 

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